Saturday 17 March 2018

Begg brands Daly 'vitriolic, cowardly' over pensions attack

Clare Daly: questioned former ICTU leader’s expertise. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
Clare Daly: questioned former ICTU leader’s expertise. Picture credit: Damien Eagers
David Begg at Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh

The new chairman of the Pensions Authority David Begg has accused a TD who questioned his qualifications for the job of a "vitriolic, cowardly and unfair" attack.

Mr Begg said he took enormous exception to comments by Clare Daly over his handling of an airline pension scheme in the Dáil.

The former trade union leader also revealed he had considered running for the Seanad, but it might be "completely unviable" given the "hostile abuse" he received in the past few days.

Mr Begg has been under fire since it emerged Tánaiste Joan Burton offered him the role without going through the public service advertising or appointments process.

The retired Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) general secretary stoutly defended his suitability for the new position at a Dáil committee yesterday.

"I took enormous exception to your contribution in the house last week," he told Ms Daly.

"It was vitriolic, cowardly and unfair." He said it "never seems to go through your head at all the damage you inflict on a person's family".

Mr Begg said Ms Daly had used Dáil privilege to make "unreasonable" claims about his expertise in dealing with a deficit of over €700m in the Irish Aviation Superannuation Scheme.

He said that while he served on the Aer Lingus board, he never got a phone call from Ms Daly.

Ms Daly told the Dáil that people were gobsmacked when they heard Mr Begg was appointed, and questioned his expertise.

Speaking at the committee yesterday, she said it was appropriate to question his expertise in dealing with the pension scheme, as he was on the board of a company that "stood over" decisions taken.

She claimed the ICTU engaged with deferred members, but not retired members who are losing half a million euro from their pensions each month. The TD said Mr Begg's prior role on the board of the Central Bank had to be discussed to examine his approach to "oversight".

Mr Begg attached a copy of his CV for members of the committee, which he said would help them make their own judgment about his suitability for the role.

Irish Independent

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