A fresh row has hit the new Cabinet with the revelation that state jobs were handed out to Coalition cronies — just days before they switched posts.
Three former Labour councillors were last week appointed to paid state board positions under the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The Department was led by Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar until last week, when he moved to Health. Deputy Labour leader Alan Kelly, a junior minister there, moved to Environment.
The Irish Examiner can reveal the former Labour councillors were given board positions with Fáilte Ireland, Bus Éireann and the Irish Sports Council,
Former councillors Gerard Barron, Denis Macken and Martin Storey last night said they knew Mr Kelly but denied there had been any cronyism in their appointments.
Gerard Barron failed to get re-elected for Labour in the Comeragh area, Waterford, in May’s local elections.
He will get €12,000 annually on the board of Fáilte Ireland.
He said he was asked by the department for his CV and had experience promoting tourism, music and outdoor events. “I don’t think they [Labour] have anything to do with it. I know Alan but have experience in the field.”
Denis Macken said he had been active with Labour for 35 years, including in the recent local elections. He failed to get reelected in Tallaght, Dublin, in 2004.
“I put in a CV, after the department asked me to,” he said.
The new Bus Éireann board member, entitled to €10,080 annually, said he had experience in purchasing and other boards, but none in the transport sector. “If people say that is cronysim, I don’t know. I’ve only ever been involved in the community. I’ve the experience to go with politics.”
Martin Storey was last week appointed to the board of the Irish Sports Council and is entitled to €5,985. He was co-opted onto Wexford County Council but lost his seat in May’s elections.
The former All-Ireland hurling winning Wexford captain said: “I don’t know if the reason I got it was because I was involved in Labour. I know the ministers but wouldn’t be drinking buddies with them.
“I’m just looking forward to the position and promoting sport in schools. I didn’t apply, but was hoping to get something if the political career came to an end. Everyone has different views on cronyism.”
A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said that the majority of his appointments had no political affiliation. Mr Kelly’s officials said he “did not have a role” in the appointments.
The revelations come after criticism over recent state board appointments former Labour Minister Pat Rabbitte.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved