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Varadkar admits he was wrong on board 'cronyism'

Fine Gael young gun Leo Varadkar admitted last night he was wrong to claim that the Government was stuffing state boards with "friends and political party supporters".

It came as an analysis of the 90 appointments made by the Government in recent weeks showed that they included a former Supreme Court judge, the corporate enforcer Paul Appleby and the chair of Age Action Ireland.

Mr Varadkar accepted it was an over-simplification to state that Fianna Fail was using its remaining time in office to pack state bodies with political appointees, as he had declared in a statement earlier this week.

"They are not all cronies by any means or political party supporters. But at the same time, there should still be a proper process of scrutiny," he said.

Mr Varadkar had submitted questions to all Government departments, after previously warning that there could be an "orgy" of state board appointments before the general election.

But those appointed by the Government during the Christmas period included the chair of Age Action Ireland Robin Webster (to the Pensions Board) and Mr Appleby (to the board of the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority).

Mr Varadkar said: "A lot of them are actually very qualified and when I speak to them a lot of them do want a new system."

The filling of state boards has been a source of controversy over the years because the appointments are made directly by ministers and are usually not publicly advertised.

Irish Independent