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Wednesday 17 January 2018

Kenny says 'nothing underhand' in way key post filled

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny yesterday denied there was anything "underhand" in the way a top semi-state post was filled without the job being advertised.

Dr Eileen Fitzpatrick has been given responsibility for the New Era project to transform the state's water, broadband and power infrastructure -- and will also play a crucial role in advising the Government on the sale of at least €2bn of semi-state assets under the bailout deal.

But the Dail heard yesterday that she had been appointed without any public advertisement process or interviewing of any other candidates.


Independent TD Shane Ross complained that her salary -- which has not been released -- could be up worth to €400,000.

"The appointment by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) of one of its insiders indicates that little has changed in the appointment of persons under the new Government," he said.

But during Leader's Questions in the Dail, Mr Kenny denied there was anything underhand about the process.

"Dr Fitzpatrick is eminently qualified to carry out this task and I have no doubt she will do an outstanding job," he said.

Dr Fitzpatrick previously was one of the eight most senior staff in the NTMA, which manages the state debt. Its staff are among the best paid in the public sector, with 16 staff members earning over €200,000 per year.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin warned that the New Era body she headed could sell off crucial semi-state assets at a time when the market was depressed.

But Mr Kenny said that the Government would make the final decision on the sale of assets after the necessary consultation had been carried out.

"We will not wake up one morning to find the Government has suddenly made a knee-jerk decision to sell off whatever it might consider it should sell off," he said.

New Era will be in charge of overseeing semi-state companies -- the ESB, Bord Gais, EirGrid, Bord na Mona and Coillte -- for the Government. And it will have a say in reforming them because the Government wants to raise more private sector funds for investment in energy, water and broadband infrastructure.

Irish Independent

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