Reilly denies FG ties influenced appointments to state boards
HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly has insisted that he appointed three people with Fine Gael connections to state boards due to their skills alone.
Dr Reilly appointed Fine Gael councillor and chartered accountant Ruairi McGinley to the board of St James's Hospital. He also appointed a former Fine Gael Wicklow general election candidate Raymond O'Rourke – a lawyer who has written two major legal books on food law – to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
And he put Linda O'Shea Farren, a barrister and former programme manager for previous Fine Gael Justice Minister Nora Owen, onto the board of the Health Information and Quality Authority.
But a spokesman for Dr Reilly insisted that he had chosen all three candidates on the basis of their skills for the job rather than their Fine Gael ties.
"The minister is very keen that people should have the proper competencies," he said.
Two of the three had applied for a position through the new public appointments process – which allows members of the public to express their interest. These were Raymond O'Rourke and Linda O'Shea Farren.
The third, who was Mr McGinley, said he had been offered the unpaid position on the board of St James's Hospital by Dr Reilly in a letter. He said he assumed it was due to his work on the board of Our Ladies Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin. "It's a public service – there's not a red cent in it for me," he said.
And he said that as well as his accountancy skills, his knowledge of the planning process would be helpful given the need to secure planning for the new National Children's Hospital on the St James's site.
Dr Reilly's decision to appoint 52 people to state boards and regulators in a recent period of eight days is under scrutiny.
But his spokesman said that 30 of the 52 appointments were due to the need to appoint professionals to new regulatory boards for dieticians, occupational therapists, nurses, and speech and language therapists.