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MEPs scrap over Cardiff's rejection

IRISH MEPs continued their recriminations today as Enda Kenny struggled to come to terms with the embarrassing rejection of Kevin Cardiff for a top EU post.

Fianna Fail's Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher accused Labour MEP Nessa Childers and her supporters of scoring "a major own goal" for attacking the Government's nominee for the European Court of Auditiors.

Members of Fine Gael's political group in the EU, the European People's Party (EPP), were among those who voted against Mr Cardiff at a European Parliament meeting yesterday.

The Taoiseach said the Government would be considering the rejection today.

Mr Cardiff, outgoing Secretary General of the Department of Finance, had his candidacy overshadowed by the controversy over a €3.6bn accounting error in his Department and by his role in the collapse of the Irish banking sector.

Mr Gallagher told RTE's Morning Ireland today that Ms Childers helped to create "total confusion" among MEPs by opposing her own Government's nominee.

But Ms Childers was unrepentant today and said the rejection was "a victory for democracy."

But MEP Prionnsias de Rossa said Mr Cardiff remained an excellent candidate. The decision of his appointment would ultimately be a matter for the Council of Ministers.

British UK Independence Party MEP Marta Andreasen said: "I was not holding my breath about my colleagues rejecting Ireland's nominee for the European Court of Auditors. But I am glad that common sense ultimately prevailed.

"Mr Cardiff's reward for this blunder would have been a six-figure salary in an EU Institution tasked with ensuring the financial probity of the multi-billion euro EU budget. It would have been farcical."

Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton insisted last night that Mr Cardiff's name would go forward with official support.

Even if Mr Cardiff is rejected there, the Government can try to ram his nomination through via EU finance ministers.

Mr Cardiff's nomination to the European Court of Auditors was the only one of eight rejected by the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee yesterday.

During the hearing he insisted it was "an honour" to be nominated by the Government, although he admitted he made "enormous mistakes" during the financial crisis.

See Analysis, Page 14