THE COALITION’S appointment of two Mayo men to State boards is not because of cronyism. Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday both men, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne and Paddy McGuinness, challenged the arguments used in an extensive Sunday Times article that included their names on a list of ‘political pals’ recently appointed to government committees and boards.
Cllr Kilcoyne, who is an Independent county council and Castlebar Town Councillor, but formerly represented the Labour Party, said the fact that he was originally appointed by the Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition to the Taxi Advisory Committee debunked any hypothesis of cronyism.
“There are 15 to 20 people appointed to the committee and I am the appointee from the Consumers Association of Ireland. There is no remuneration and expenses are paid at the Civil Service rate,” Michael Kilcoyne said.
He suggested that if the entire list of Government appointees was published – rather than the list of 60 published by The Sunday Times – it would prove that it was not just so-called ‘political pals’ that were being favoured.
He added: “It would be hard to find a significant proportion of people on any committee that did not support a political party.”
Meanwhile, Paddy McGuinness, who is a former Fine Gael councillor and a personal friend of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s, said his appointment last November as the chairman of the Western Development Commission (WDC), had caused an unwarranted furore in the media. At the time he remarked that his friendship with Enda Kenny ‘seems to be in certain sectors a crime’.
Speaking yesterday Mr Guinness echoed Cllr KIlcoyne’s comments about the links that many people - who may be suitable for such positions - have with political parties.
“Where would you find people to fill any of these positions? Would government have to demand that anyone who may in the future consider applying for such a position refuse to join a political party?” he asked
He told The Mayo News that when he was offered the position as chief of the WDC he had ‘to think long and hard about whether he would accept’.
”I had retired as a Fine Gael councillor and was happy walking my dog each day and starting a new hobby of making walking sticks. To be frank, I had to be coaxed to take the job and when I did agree, I had obviously decided I would give it my all.
“The Western Development Commission (WDC) was one of the top organisations recommended for abolition by economist Colm McCarthy in the An Bord Snip Nua report. It is my ambition to ensure that it is taken off that list and viewed instead as a vital organisation for the western region,” Paddy McGuinness said.
Noting that the annual remuneration for the position is €9000 (€5000 after tax), he suggested that perhaps the media would have been better placed attending his initial address to the Oireachtas Environment Committee where they could have explored his credentials for the job.
The Sunday Times analysis piece revealed that of the hundreds of appointments made by the government since it came to power almost two years ago, there were more than 60 appointees with links to Fine Gael of Labour.
They cite Minister Leo Varadkar’s excoriation of the last coalition government for its widespread practise of cronyism and his promise that this government would reform such practises.
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