Saturday 17 March 2018

New TD won't give up seat dad got him on state board

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

NEW Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae said he will not give up his place on a state board because he has been elected to the Dail.

The Kerry South TD was appointed to the Citizens Information Board (CIB) by then Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Hanafin in 2009, when he was a county councillor.

Mr Healy-Rae receives €5,985, plus expenses, a year for the position, and he also gets a TD's salary of around €92,000. There are no rules barring TDs from sitting on state boards.

Mr Healy-Rae's father, Jackie, was given three state board positions to hand out to his supporters as part of the deal he struck with Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen to support Fianna Fail in the last Government.

Sources in that Government said Jackie was consistently "hassling" to get Michael appointed to a state board. Ms Hanafin said she put Mr Healy-Rae on the board on the orders of Mr Cowen but was unaware if it was part of a deal. "The Taoiseach asked me at the time to do it," Ms Hanafin said.

Mr Healy-Rae claims his appointment was not part of any deal and said the position, which he will hold until 2014, allows him to make "a difference at a national level, which has a resulting positive effect at a local level".

"Why in the name of goodness would I come off a board which I wanted to get on, because it helps me in my political work? I did get appointed to a state board in 2009 but that was because I went looking for it myself.

"It ties in with the work I was and am doing. That was nothing to do with the deal."

According to figures released last year, Mr Healy-Rae also received an average of €455 in mileage and hotel expenses each time he travelled to attend a board meeting.

All 15 members of the board are appointed by the minister. One board member is an officer of the minister, three are representative of people with disabilities, one is a member of staff and the others are deemed 'ordinary'.

Three sitting and former councillors were appointed to the board by Ms Hanafin in 2009 and all are listed as 'ordinary' members.

They are Patricia Walsh (FF), from Cavan County Council; former councillor John Sheehy (FF), of Tipperary North County Council; and Mr Healy Rae (Ind).

Last year, an Irish Independent investigation revealed Mr Healy-Rae received €74,342 in 2008 and €39,663 in 2009 in expenses and fees for his service with Kerry County Council.

This newspaper also reported last week that he appointed his brother Danny as his Oireachtas secretarial assistant, a position that has a salary of around €23,000.

Irish Independent

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