Friday 15 December 2017

MEP says she was threatened in EU post row

Fionnan Sheahan and Sarah Collins

Labour Party MEP Nessa Childers has written to party officials complaining about the threats she claims were made to her over her criticism of the nomination of Department of Finance chief Kevin Cardiff to a top EU post.

However, Labour Party figures last night expressed bemusement at the complaint made by the low-profile Ireland East MEP.

Every Labour TD, senator and MEP was told last week to watch what they said about the Department of Finance secretary general being put forward for the European Court of Auditors.

A party press officer did call the MEP after her initial critical comments about Mr Cardiff's nomination outlining the party position to her.

But Ms Childers claims she was "threatened" about making any further comment.

"I was warned if I was speaking any further about it that I could end up in court with being sued for loss of income by the person concerned. I was subsequently threatened with expulsion from the party," she said.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said he didn't know who had contacted Ms Childers and he respected the fact individual MEPs may have issues with the nomination.

He said nobody in the party needed his permission before expressing an opinion.

The former Green Party councillor has written to the party general secretary Ita McAuliffe about her treatment.

"It is now an internal party matter," a spokesperson said.

Labour's press office spoke to Ms Childers last Tuesday after her criticism of Mr Cardiff was initially reported. A press officer told her there wasn't much value for the party to be involved in a media controversy over the appointment.

Within political parties, it is standard practice for a press officer to contact party figures who express views that are at odds with the party policy and warn them about future action.

Last week, Ms Childers was heavily critical of Mr Cardiff's nomination -- but didn't go further than other critics.

"I felt he was inappropriate even before the €3.6bn incident. In the circumstances -- of the proceeding years and his economic background, where he was during the last few years -- he's not appropriate," she said.


Meanwhile, the most vociferous opponent of Mr Cardiff's nomination to the European Court of Auditors has spoken out publicly against the appointment ahead of a key vote next week.

Marta Andreasen, a British MEP and member of the parliamentary committee responsible for probing Mr Cardiff's eligibility for the post, told the Irish Independent there was a growing reluctance among her colleagues to countenance a changing of the guard.

"Everybody thinks it's ridiculous that we have to face this change when we are happy with the man we have," she said of Ireland's current auditor, Eoin O'Shea.

Irish Independent

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