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Tanaiste accused of cronyism over Labour Court job

TANAISTE Mary Coughlan ignored advice to open up a €150,000-a-year plum job to public competition and directly appointed a SIPTU boss.

Even though his predecessor had to face competition before he took up the position, the Tanaiste directly appointed SIPTU vice-president Brendan Hayes as deputy chairman of the Labour Court.

The Tanaiste ignored a six-year-old decision that the position should be filled through the Public Appointment Commission (PAC).

When the Irish Independent reported last October that Mr Hayes was to be appointed without a public competition, Ms Coughlan described the story as "factually incorrect".

In the Dail, she said: "No decision has been taken and I hope the newspaper will take the opportunity to correct this."

The announcement of Mr Hayes' appointment was made by Minister of State for Labour Affairs, Dara Calleary.

It is understood that the Department of Finance wanted the position to be filled from the existing staff at the Labour Court to save the Exchequer the €150,000-a-year salary and special pension.


Fine Gael's spokesman on Enterprise and Employment, Senator John Paul Phelan, said last night: "Crony government and golden circle social partnership is alive and well."

He added: "I am sure Brendan Hayes is fully qualified for the job but well-paid positions in the public service should be open to competition."

The Department of Enterprise and Employment confirmed that the previous deputy chairman of the Labour Court, Ray McGee, was appointed under the PAC rules.

But a spokesperson for Ms Coughlan said pointedly last October: "The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has the power under the Industrial Relations Acts to appoint deputy chairpersons of the Labour Court."

Six years ago, Mary Harney, the then Enterprise, Trade and Employment minister, and her senior officials agreed that the old ICTU/IBEC share-out should end and the position of deputy chairman of the Labour Court should be filled by public competition.

Sources at the Labour Court told the Irish Independent in October that the Tanaiste wanted to return to the system where the plum positions were shared between ICTU and IBEC.

Last night a source said: "It was SIPTU's turn, the Public Appointments System was ignored and their man got it."

A spokesperson for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment said: "Different approaches have been taken in the past for filling vacancies in the Labour Court."

Irish Independent