Sunday 17 December 2017

Fianna Fail 'target' Phil facing long, hot EU summer

Hot water: Minister Phil Hogan
Hot water: Minister Phil Hogan

John Drennan, Political Editor

Fianna Fail are planning to "target" Environment Minister Phil Hogan for "special attention" if Taoiseach Enda Kenny nominates him as 
Ireland's European Commissioner in next week's Cabinet reshuffle.

It is expected that, should the abrasive Mr Hogan win the battle with the former Tanaiste Mr Gilmore to get the European nod, Mr Kenny will announce his decision next week.

The minister's case has been somewhat damaged by the embarrassing release of a press statement suggesting Mr Hogan's days in the department were numbered.

The release also contained a list of Mr Hogan's achievements for any members of the media who might be interested in perusing its contents.

One source told the Sunday Independent: "Enda is not going to be too happy with that sort of messing, Phil has been left looking like a fool at the worst time."

Fianna Fail has separately warned "Phil cannot expect to just roll over to Brussels over the summer time".

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, party leader Micheal Martin strongly 
criticised a process which he said was marked by "an unfortunate degree of politicking where Labour are using a post of national importance as a vehicle to get a better job in cabinet and utter ignorance within the Government over what commissionership they actually want".

And Mr Martin warned: "Fianna Fail will be closely examining Phil Hogan's qualifications for this significant post.

"There are questions about Phil's suitability, can he rise above the partisan school of politics he has traditionally practiced to prioritise the national interest rather than Fine Gael's interests? Phil's interest in Europe is a very lately-acquired taste - what is his vision for Europe? This is still a mystery to us all."

Fianna Fail Environment spokesman Barry Cowen also expressed concerns Mr 
Hogan's "combative school of politics means he is ill-suited for this post".

Mr Cowen added: "Phil will have to answer a lot of questions about his legacy, including the many unresolved issues surrounding Irish Water before we can have confidence in him."

The political sensitivity surrounding the possible nomination of Mr Hogan is so intense that an attempt by the Reform Alliance to force Ireland's next Commissioner to go through a process of Dail scrutiny provoked the Taoiseach into claiming Lucinda Creighton's concerns on this affair was "a personal rant".

However, Fianna Fail 
Justice spokesperson Niall Collins was unsympathetic, noting: "Phil likes dishing it out, let's see how he can take it."

Another senior Fianna Fail figure warned: "It's target Phil; this will make the Kevin Cardiff nomination process look like a teddy bears' picnic. It will be a long, hot summer for Mr Hogan."

Sunday Independent

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