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Varadkar gave harbour posts to his FG pals

LEO Varadkar is the latest minister to be dragged into the cronyism debacle that has caused ructions within government.

The Herald can reveal that Mr Varadkar appointed two prominent former politicians and a party member to the board of the Galway Harbour Company.

The most high-profile of the appointees, former TD Paraic McCormack, was handed a directorship without applying through the public appointments process.


Mr Varadkar also signed off on the appointments of former Mayor of Galway John Mulholland and party member Frank Greene to the posts, which come with a €6,300 annual fee.

All three appointments were approved by the minister during his tenure in the Department of Transport. While both Mr Mulholland and Mr Greene applied for the posts through the appointments process, the Herald has learned that Mr McCormack did not.

Mr McCormack, an ex-TD and senator for Galway West, did not respond to queries last night. Mr Mulholland said he applied for the directorship through the department after he lost his seat on the council. Mr Greene told the Herald that his political affiliations are "entirely my own business" and said he does not know Mr Varadkar.

Mr Greene, who is President of the Chamber of Commerce in Galway, said he was put forward for the post by the organisation Chambers Ireland.

Speaking to the Herald, CEO of Galway Harbour Board Eamon Bradshaw said that all board appointments are the prerogative of the Transport Minister.

"We ask that appropriate people with the relevant skills be appointed and that is consistent with the Irish Ports Association," he said.

In a statement, a spokesman for the minister pointed out that all three appointees have extensive experience.


"More than half of all Leo Varadkar's appointments came through the public process. Others like hotelier Francis Brennan or Michael Cawley of Ryanair were approached directly.

"While the vast majority of his appointees have no political background, he has always stated clearly that it should not preclude people from consideration.

"He has therefore appointed people to boards with links to all political parties from across the spectrum including the PDs, Fianna Fáil and the Greens."

Meanwhile, the ongoing cronyism row involving Fine Gael's John McNulty took a new twist after Taoiseach Enda Kenny softened his stance on the prospect of him serving as a senator.

"Obviously some people had voted before John made his formal request for people not to support him," Mr Kenny said.

"I haven't given a directive to the Fine Gael party," he added..