Ill-advised Tánaiste has shot herself in the foot
The allocation of senior managerial positions by a privileged political elite is always contentious. That is why the Public Appointments Service was set up. It is also why Tánaiste Joan Burton's decision to personally approach former trade union leader David Begg and offer him a €20,520-a-year job on a state board was so ill-advised. Rightly or wrongly, it smacks of arrogance and an over-familiarity with the trappings and appendages of power.
Mr Begg did not help matters with his glib comment: "It's not exactly a crock of gold associated with it."
To many in Ireland who will never be offered the chairmanship of anything, and who have seen their pensions wiped out by the crash, €20,520 represents a substantial sum of money. That Mr Begg is no doubt highly qualified for the job reinforces the case for availing of the appointment service.
As one of the Tánaiste's own TDs, Ciara Conway, asked: "Why set a rule and then break it?" Another, Robert Dowds, said he also believes such appointments require complete transparency. Ms Burton's lack of judgment has left her open to accusations of cronyism. As candidates line up for the election, she has shot herself in the foot with the starting gun.