Tánaiste Joan Burton and Communications Minister Alex White have dismissed the tabling of a motion of no confidence in her by Independent TD Shane Ross as a political stunt.
Mr Ross tabled the motion after Ms Burton used a loophole in legislation to bypass normal procedures to appoint David Begg as chairman of the Pensions Authority.
Mr Ross has called Mr Begg’s appointment as a blatant act of cronyism but this was rejected yesterday by Ms Burton and Mr White.
Speaking at her party’s new headquarters at the launch of its policy to help working families, Ms Burton said Mr Begg’s calibre and expertise made him an excellent choice to fill the role.
Asked by the Irish Examiner about the motion, the Tánaiste said while it was Mr Ross’s privilege to put it down, she strongly defended the appointment. “I wanted someone of calibre who had huge and extensive experience of pensions and he has worked and negotiated on behalf of workers,” she said.
“Shane Ross has written over the years and decades about the individual who has been nominated, but the issue here is can we get the best person possible to work with the pensions’ authority. Given his track record, it is a very appropriate appointment,” said the Tánaiste.
Mr White says the legislation allows for such an appointment to be made so there was no question of Ms Burton acting outside the rules. He also said the tabling of the motion was political game-playing and was reflective of some people’s antipathy toward former trade union leaders like Mr Begg.
“The real issue here is more to do with playing politics with the issue given the cycle we are in at the moment, and perhaps something to do with the disdain some people hold trade union leaders in,” he said.
Ms Burton also said she had no difficulty in FAI chief executive John Delaney declaring his support for Environment Minister Alan Kelly, as revealed in a Sunday newspaper yesterday.
“If John Delaney is advising people to vote for Alan Kelly, well I support that. Politics is full of people from sporting codes who have expressed a political viewpoint,” she told reporters.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved