herald

Saturday 22 September 2018

Now Enda finds jobs for the boys in new U-turn

FIRST it was jobs for the family and now it's jobs for the boys.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has dished out €9,500-a-year jobs to a line-up of male politicians as another pre-election promise falls by the wayside.

The Fine Gael leader has installed party members as chairs to key Oireachtas committees, while also failing to scrap the payment for the positions.

Mr Kenny had promised two years ago that "no allowances will be paid for committee chairperson, vice chairpersons or convenors".

However, the chairs will continue to be remunerated to the tune of nearly €10,000 a year on top of their TDs' salaries.

A number of the appointees -- all of whom are male -- had backed Richard Bruton in last year's heave against Mr Kenny.

Roscommon South Leitrim TD Denis Naughten is set to be appointed chair of the Health committee, while Wicklow East Carlow deputy Andrew Doyle will be head of the Agriculture and Communications committee.

Meath West TD Damien English is going to chair the Jobs, Social Protection and Education committee.



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Donegal North East TD Joe McHugh was named as the Irish co-chairperson of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

Clare deputy Pat Breen has been nominated by the Taoiseach to the Foreign Affairs committee.

Mr Kenny has overseen some cost cutting, with the number of committees being reduced from 26 to 16. Government chief whip Paul Kehoe said it would make the committees "far more effective".

"In the last Dail, members were rushing in and out to attend two, three or four committees. They weren't able to find out what was on the agenda. Now they will have one committee and they can concentrate on that," he said.

In total, Fine Gael and Labour TDs and Senators will have 70pc of seats on the 16 committees.

There are 172 Government party members assigned to the committees, with only 78 Opposition TDs and Senators.

The Coalition parties will chair 13 out of the 16 committees.

Fianna Fail chief whip Sean O Fearghail said Fine Gael has "rowed back" on its promise to do away with payments for committee chairs. He said "most people" would be happy to fill the role "without any extra pay".

Mr O Fearghail said he would see the positions "as part of the job we're elected to do".

But Fine Gael insisted it has overseen a cost reduction by reducing the number of committees and halving the chairs' allowances. The previous government had already scrapped the payments for committee vice-chairs and convenors.

Despite the party's earlier promise, the pledge to abolish payments to committee chairs did not appear in Fine Gael's New Politics election policy.

Mr Kenny appointed loyal supporters to paid positions on the Oireachtas Commission, which oversees the operation of the Dail and Seanad.

They are Frank Feighan, Dan Neville, Catherine Byrne and Senator Tom Sheahan.

David Stanton was nominated as the chair of the Justice, Defence and Equality committee and Tom Hayes will be chair of the Joint Administrative committee.

cmurphy@herald.ie

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