Hanafin named FF man to board on last day

MARY HANAFIN appointed a Fianna Fáil councillor and friend of Brian Cowen to the board of the Irish Sports Council on her last full day as Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister.

Ms Hanafin’s former department has confirmed she appointed Offaly county councillor Danny Owens to the Sports Council board on March 8.

It was the last full day for the outgoing FF government and one of Ms Hanafin’s final actions as a minister. The following day, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny was elected Taoiseach and appointed his Cabinet.

Mr Owens, an All-Ireland winning hurler with Offaly, served as a director of elections for FF in the Tullamore electoral area in last month’s general election.

He represents the Tullamore area as a councillor, as did the former Taoiseach’s brother, Barry Cowen, before he won a Dáil seat last month. But Mr Owens said he did not believe his friendship with the former Taoiseach was the reason for his appointment to the board.

“I’m involved in Offaly Sports Partnership for a number of years, I played hurling and coached for Offaly, so it’s not like somebody coming to a board who has no real connection or any kind of experience — I’ve a lot of it,” he said.

The Offaly Sports Partnership is a body which seeks to increase participation in sport in the county. Its work is supported by the Sports Council.

The latter confirmed it had a vacancy on its board due to the death of Michael Spain, a GAA administrator and referee who was a member of the same Offaly club as Mr Owens.

Ms Hanafin did not return a call seeking comment.

Mr Owens will be entitled to a taxable stipend of €5,985 as well as expenses for serving on the board.

He was not the only FF councillor appointed to a state board on March 8. Former Communications Minister Pat Carey appointed Peter Ormond, another Offaly councillor friendly with Brian Cowen, to the board of An Post.

Mr Ormond told the Sunday Times his work on the Midland Regional Authority and Education Finance Board qualified him for the position.

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