PHIL HOGAN has said that none of the constituents whose CVs he sent to Irish Water got jobs with the semi-state agency.
Mr Hogan today dismissed all criticism of his performance as a government minister during a gruelling interrogation at the European Parliament ahead of his appointment as Agriculture Commissioner.
It was revealed this morning that Mr Hogan had sent three CVs belonging to constituents to Irish Water chief John Tierney days after the new utility announced a plan to create 400 new jobs.
Irish Water's head of human resources, Angela Costello, responded to Mr Hogan's representations telling him she had written to the constituents and advised them to go through recruitment agency websites advertising positions.
She said Irish Water would keep the CVs on file. In response to queries, a Fine Gael spokesman said that most public representatives send constituents' CVs for consideration.
However, Mr Hogan had evidently attained this information ahead of this morning's appearance at the European Parliament committee.
MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan accused Mr Hogan of attempting to use his influence to appoint his "friends" and "cronies" to Irish Water. But in response, Mr Hogan quipped: "None of them got a job so I must be losing my influence over the company I helped to established".
Mr Hogan dismissed all criticism of his performance as Environment Minister put forward by Independent Mr Flanagan and Sinn Fein's Matt Carthy, who are members of the European Parliament's agriculture committee and raised a series of controversies at this morning's hearing.
Mr Carthy used his slot to raise the €50m in consultancy fees spent in the establishment of Irish Water with Mr Hogan rejecting allegations that he "misled" the public on the matter.
"If you are going to set up a new system it costs money to do so," he replied.
Mr Carthy also raised the issue of legal letters Mr Hogan has allegedly sent to "politicians and journalists".
The Midlands-North-West MEP was referring partly to a bitter legal row between Mr Hogan and Dublin MEP Nessa Childers. Mr Hogan has sent Ms Childers three legal letters following remarks she made about his handling of a case involving a Traveller family in his former constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny.
In response to Mr Carthy's question, Mr Hogan replied: "You would expect Irish politicians to defend themselves if they are defamed."
Mr Hogan then turned the heat on the newly-elected MEP, pointing out that he has received a letter from the Sinn Fein Agriculture Minister in the North, Michelle O'Neill, congratulating him on his expected appointment. MEPs from all member states were this morning given the opportunity to pose 45 questions to Mr Hogan as he bids to be appointed Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The veteran Fine Gael politician comfortably handled a wide range of agriculture and rural development questions - from farming and dairy to wine and olive oil production.