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John Drennan: Varadkar tells six FF appointees to quit posts

Six controversial state board appointees have been asked by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to resign their posts by the end of the month.

Documentation seen exclusively by the Sunday Independent reveals the Minister has written to six state board members, appointed by Fianna Fail in the interregnum between the collapse of the FF/Green Coalition and the election of a new government, to request their immediate resignation.

During the dying days of the last government, in what was described as "an orgy of state appointments" Fianna Fail appointed over 110 people to state boards.

Independent TD, Shane Ross said that the failure to reverse these appointments showed "the quango culture and the culture of cronyism was alive and well".

In his letter the Transport Minister Mr Varadkar has asked the six interregnum appointees to "step aside from your position". He says that the request is not "a reflection on your qualifications or suitability to serve on this or any other body''.

However the appointees are also told in no uncertain terms that their selection had "resulted in considerable public disquiet'' and that the Minister had "prior to the calling of the recent general election . . . expressed publicly my dissatisfaction with public appointments being made by a government in its 'dying days'.''

Among those who have been asked to step aside is Marian Mc Gennis, who is a former FF TD and Senator. Ms Mc Gennis, who is now believed to be residing in Laois, was appointed to the board of Dublin Bus.

The failed FF 2007 general election candidate Luke Moriarty, whose expertise lies in the hotel business and who also runs a number of SuperValu shops, was appointed to the board of the Railway Procurement Agency.

Michael O'Faolain, who secured a plum position on the board of the transport company Bus Eireann, is a former teacher who ran for but failed to secure a seat in Athlone for Fianna Fail in the 1991 council elections.

James Donlan, who was appointed to the National Roads Authority by Pat Carey days before the election of a new government, was Fianna Fail's constituency director of elections for the former minister's constituency of Dublin North West.

Mr Varadkar was not available for comment. However, one senior source noted that "a scenario where board members do not possess the confidence of the Taoiseach or the minister is not sustainable''.

Sunday Independent