Saturday 24 March 2018

Avoid any delay in appointing successor, says Geoghegan-Quinn

Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and her grand-daughter Ciara (9)
Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and her grand-daughter Ciara (9)
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

EUROPEAN Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn has warned Taoiseach Enda Kenny to move quickly to appoint her successor if the Government wants to secure a heavy-hitting portfolio.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn also told the Irish Independent she is retiring from politics when her term of office runs out.

The commissioner would not be drawn on who she would like to see replace her in Brussels. She insisted all of the names being mooted for the role would make "very worthy commissioners".

However, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn did call for the decision to be made without any further delay.

"I think the important thing for Ireland is that they make a decision soon because the sooner the decision is made the sooner a very good portfolio will be available for the country," she said.

The former justice minister joked that she would like to see a Fianna Fail member take her place, adding she hoped that the Taoiseach would oblige.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn said she was happy that her successor be chosen from the list of names currently in the running for the post, including Environment Minister Phil Hogan and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore.

Following her appointment as commissioner in late 2009, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn caved into enormous political pressure in April 2010 to give up her €100,000 ministerial and TD's pension.

She has surrendered her pension while being on a salary of nearly €250,000 as a commissioner.

Speaking at NUI Galway, where she was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws, Ms Geoghegan-Quinn also revealed how she believed new European Commission President Jean-Claude Junker was the "obvious candidate and the obvious choice" if EU leaders were to follow through on their pre-election agreements.

Ms Geoghegan-Quinn, who has worked closely with Mr Juncker since 1987, described him as a wonderful and passionate pro-European. However she stressed he was also "a passionate, small country man".

"He comes from a very, very small country, he understands the problems that Europe has at the moment and how they need to get closer to the citizen."

Speaking about her own plans, the outgoing commissioner insisted she was at the end of her political career.

"I need to take some time off, certainly at the beginning. I'm not going to go back into politics; obviously I'm there to support the party and do whatever I can but it won't be in a public way. And after that we'll see.

"But I really need about six months off because the last five years have been incredibly stressful but it has been the most exciting period of my life."

Irish Independent

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