Councillors defend appointments

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is seeking legal advice on a number of Fianna Fail appointments made on the last day of the last Dail.

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is seeking legal advice on a number of Fianna Fail appointments made on the last day of the last Dail.

This includes the appointment of two Offaly councillors to two boards. Cllr Danny Owens was appointed to the Irish Sports Council and while Cllr Peter Ormond was appointed to an Post.

The issue was raised in the Dail when Deputy Shane Ross asked, “Is the Taoiseach going to take measures to stop this culture of cronyism by reversing the decisions made by those accusing him of involvement in this, the outgoing Fianna Fáil Government, to appoint people on a blatantly political basis to the boards of semi-State organisations on its last day in office? Those appointments should be reversed immediately and the Taoiseach should make no apology for doing so.”

Taoiseach Kenny commended Deputy Ross on his comments. “What happened in the hiatus between the election and the formation of the new Government was disgraceful and I am seeking legal advice on whether it is possible to reverse those decisions. I agree fully with the comments about the culture of cronyism and references to a previous Taoiseach who said many appointments he made were made on the basis of friendship, as distinct from merit.”

Deputy Ross then asked “will the Taoiseach end the system of political appointments to State bodies that has been so abused, not just by Fianna Fáil but by Fine Gael and the Labour Party in the past? There is no indication that the Government will end that abuse in the future. ”

In response Mr Kenny said he was interested in men and women of competence and merit serving where they can contribute to the well-being of the country.

“I am interested in putting an end to the blatant cronyism,” added Mr Kenny.

Cllr Ormond, who took up his new position on the board of An Post last Thursday said as far as he was concerned, the letter of the law was followed in making his appointment.

Meanwhile Cllr Owens said the timing of his appointment or his suitability for the role could not be questioned. “What Enda Kenny decides to do is up to Enda Kenny. I don’t think too many people can call into question my suitability for the role.”

I have been involved in sport all my life, not just GAA but in other sports as well and I have been a member of Offaly Sports Partnership for the last few years.

“John Treacy told me there was no other member with a connection to a sports partnership, so I would bring to the table something that it doesn’t have already.”

Cllr Owens added in relation to the timing, the position only became available on the death of his good friend Mick Spain.

He said what the Taoiseach did was a matter for him and Cllr Owens would not be commenting on that.