Taoiseach Enda Kenny has nominated his chief economic adviser Andrew McDowell to become Ireland’s vice-president at the European Investment Bank.
The post brings with it an annual salary worth in the region of €270,000 a year.
Mr McDowell will be formally appointed by the bank’s board of governors following his nomination by Mr Kenny.
The Opposition have sought clarity as to the process which saw one of Mr Kenny’s top aides land a top job at European level.
Mr McDowell has been Mr Kenny’s chief economic adviser since entering Government, and was Fine Gael’s economic adviser in Opposition before that.
His appointment follows a major row between Mr Kenny and Transport Minister Shane Ross over earlier attempts to install former taoiseach John Bruton to the post without a proper selection process being undertaken.
Government sources confirm Enda Kenny has nominated his economic advisor Andrew McDowell to top €275k a year job #iestaff— McConnellDaniel (@McConnellDaniel) July 5, 2016
Government sources have confirmed that a process to select Mr McDowell was gone through to ensure “i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed”.
“It will be a change for the team, but life goes on. He will be missed and Enda relied upon him massively. But this was too good an opportunity to turn down,” a source said.
It is understood Mr McDowell obtained Mr Kenny’s approval to compete for the post.
In 2015, he received €156,380 in salary for his role in Government which was in excess of salary caps put in place by the administration in 2011.
The appointment was agreed by the Government at Cabinet yesterday but it is understood it was the subject of some discussion.
“The Cabinet agreed but Ross was not fully happy with it, but was satisfied that at least there was a process,” said one senior Government source.
In the Dáil, Mr Kenny said Mr McDowell is a “truly outstanding person more than capable of doing a first-class job” in the role.
In a statement later, he added: “As an economic and policy adviser to me, Andrew played a vital role in the last Government which guided Ireland out of an international bailout and back on the path to recovery.
“He played a leading part in the formation of the new partnership Government and his counsel will be sorely missed by its members.
“His new role will enable him to shape EIB’s policies in the future and I am sure Ireland will continue to avail of optimum levels of EIB investment. I wish Andrew and his family well as he moves onto a new challenge with the European Investment Bank.”
Finance Minister Michael Noonan also welcomed the appointment.
It is understood that on Mr Ross’s insistence, more than a dozen candidates were interviewed with three names being presented to Mr Noonan, who in turn decided to bring Mr McDowell’s name to Cabinet for approval.
Last night, Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty called on Mr Kenny to clarify what the process was which led to Mr McDowell’s appointment.
He asked that given Mr McDowell’s salary breached the Government’s own pay caps, will his successor’s pay also break the cap.
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