Monday 23 October 2017

Top EU job for financial blunder civil servant Kevin Cardiff questioned by MEPs

Lyndsey Telford

IRISH MEPs have expressed concerns over the Government's nomination of a senior finance civil servant to a top job in Europe following a €3.6 billion accounting blunder.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has given his full support to outgoing Department of Finance secretary general Kevin Cardiff as a candidate for the European Court of Auditors.

But Phil Prendergast, Labour MEP, said the debt error was embarrassing and warned she would not like to be in Mr Cardiff's shoes when he is scrutinised for the €180,000 a-year job.

"He might be technically qualified for the job, but the issue of the €3.6 billion will have to be revisited," she said in Brussels today.

Mr Cardiff was quizzed by politicians last week after it emerged the Department of Finance had overstated the country's debt when a sum of €3.6 billion was double-counted.

Ms Prendergast hit out at Mr Cardiff and accused him of not showing any remorse during the Public Accounts Committee meeting.

"His body language last week didn't seem to show any apology whatsoever for the fact he has brought a huge amount of embarrassment on Ireland," she said.

"Any aspect of fiscal policy from the Department of Finance should show us in a good light and this doesn't show us in a good light."

Sean Kelly, Fine Gael MEP, said that news concerning the accounting blunder - brought to light by the National Treasury Management Agency as far back as 2010 but not acted on - was "certainly not to Mr Cardiff's credit".

He added: "If he thinks [the job] is going to be a doddle then he has another think coming."

Pat the Cope Gallagher, Fianna Fail MEP, said he was looking forward to hearing the outcome of the Budget Control Committee meeting in Brussels on Thursday when MEPs will consider Mr Cardiff's nomination.

But he added: "If the socialists and the European People's Party members say they're not going to support him then he doesn't stand a chance."

Former chief accountant of the European Commission Marta Andreasen spoke out against the Irish Government and Minister Noonan yesterday for their support for Mr Cardiff.

The MEP with the UK Independence Party said the Irish Government was behaving irresponsibly by backing someone whom she believes is unfit for the European job.

The eurosceptic said if Mr Cardiff was unable to identify the 3.6 billion euro irregularity in Ireland's accounts, he would be unable to do the same in Europe.

She plans to oppose his appointment and urge other MEPs to do the same at the meeting on Thursday.

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