Bruton defends Hogan over jobs for his 'cronies'
JOBS Minister Richard Bruton has defended the appointment of five coalition 'cronies' to state boards by Environment Minister Phil Hogan.
Mr Bruton said sometimes political colleagues are best-placed to fill the posts because of a lack of suitable people coming forward.
Mr Hogan, who is expected to leave the Department of the Environment in the coming days, has appointed seven former local councillors - five from Fine Gael and two from Labour - to state boards in recent weeks.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Bruton defended the appointments, saying political allegiance should not be a disqualifier from being considered.
He said the positions are and should be advertised, but sometimes "you don't get the required expertise from those who apply". Being a member of a political party is not sufficient grounds to preclude people from consideration, he said.
"I don't think any political allegiance should be a disqualification. We advertise our posts and not always do you get suitable people," he added.
In the past week alone, Mr Hogan has appointed three former councillors to the board of the National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) and two to the Western Development Commission (WDC).
The three appointed to the NOAC were Michael 'Spike' Nolan, a former FG councillor from Kildare; former Labour Dublin city councillor Henry Upton; and Offaly Fine Gael councillor Constance Hanniffy.
Mr Nolan and Mr Upton lost their seats at the recent elections, which Ms Hanniffy did not contest.
Former FG councillor and Mayo footballer Eugene Lavin and Gerard Mullaney, a former FG county councillor from Sligo, were appointed to the WDC, which brings with it fees of up to €5,985 a year.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte previously appointed two coalition cronies to a state board. He came under fire for appointing Labour by-election candidate Denis Leonard and former FG TD John Farrelly to Bord na Mona.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny defended the appointments, saying those involved had a "wealth of experience" .
Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan, who also faces being ousted from the Cabinet, appointed former Labour councillor Jane Dillon Byrne to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan defended the appointment of a FG activist to the NAMA board, even though it was not made via a public appointments process.