Call for Oireachtas to vet State board appointees

People appointed by the Government to State boards must be vetted by the Oireachtas, the Dáil heard today.

Fine Gael said individuals must be chosen on the basis of relevant qualifications or experience and not on their links to political parties.

The TD said the appointees should appear before the relevant Oireachtas Committee to explain what they can offer to the organisation and to public life.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore agreed that legislation was required to make the public service more accountable and transparent.

But Taoiseach Brian Cowen insisted appointments to State boards are always made on the basis of knowledge, expertise and experience.

“Knowing me is not an advantage and knowing me is not a disadvantage,” he told TDs during Taoiseach’s Questions.

“One needs a very good balance on boards.

“Not just those with technical knowledge but with those with involvement in public administration who want to serve out of a sense of public duty rather than monetary considerations.

“It is important we get the right balance of finding people of good calibre without subjecting them to a level of political scrutiny that may undermine their ability to carry out their tasks subsequently.”

Sinn Féin’s Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain also agreed that there should be scrutiny of State board appointments from Oireachtas Committees.

Fine Gael TD Charles Flanagan added: “All things being equal, the party member or the party supporter will get the nod.”

He claimed two Fianna Fáil councillors were recently appointed to the Solicitors’ Disciplinary Tribunal.

Mr Cowen replied that there must be public confidence at all times in the process of making appointments to boards but added that political affiliations should not automatically disqualify the most suitable people.


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