John McGuinness has been nominated as chairman of the Finance Committee after being passed over for a position on Fianna Fáil’s front bench. The Kilkenny TD who was not selected as a party spokesman by leader Micheál Martin is now set to chair one of the most high-profile Oireachtas Committees.
Mr McGuinness is among the six Fianna Fáil TDs nominated to chair committees with Sean Fleming selected to head the Public Accounts Committee which is the most powerful committee as it has powers to seek evidence from departments and investigate financial transactions.
While Fine Gael has yet to announce its six selections to committee chair roles, Sinn Féin also announced its three committee chair nominations yesterday.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin will chair the Justice and Equality Committee while Peadar Tóibín will chair the regional development committee.
The party has also selected first-time TD Kathleen Funchion to chair the Belfast Agreement committee.
Under the D’Hondt system which is being introduced for the first time, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will chair 13 of the 19 Oireachtas committees. Sinn Féin has three, while Labour will chair public service, oversight and petitions. The rural alliance, made up of the Healy-Rae brothers, Michael Collins, Michael Harty, Mattie McGrath, and Noel Grealish, has been given the chair of the European affairs committee.
The Independents4Change group will chair the Irish language committee.
Last night Mr McGuinness expressed his delight at his nomination to become chairman of the Finance Committee, having been omitted from Mr Martin’s front bench.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr McGuinness said: “I am happy Micheál has recognised talent here. I am really looking forward to the new challenge. The Finance Committee has a broad scope and I am eager to get stuck in.”
Other Fianna Fáil TDs selected by Mr Martin include first-time TDs Fiona O’Loughlin who has been given the chair of the Education and Skills Committee and Mary Butler who has been appointed chair of the Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Committee.
John Curran will chair the Social Protection Committee and Brendan Smith has been selected to the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence Committee.
Announcing the party’s nominations Sinn Féin chief whip, Aengus Ó Snodaigh said: “Oireachtas Committees play an important role in the legislative process through pre-legislative scrutiny, dealing with amendments to Bills and discussing departmental budgets, as well as conducting public hearings, and a strong chairperson is vital to their function.”
Ms Funchion said: “We are coming up on 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement so it’s important that we see the full implementation of it, it’s exciting for me as a new TD to be taking on this role, so I am very much looking forward to it.
“It will be a learning experience for me, but it will be good to work with other parties and with out colleagues in the North.”
Fine Gael, which has been given chairs of budget, health, housing, agriculture, transport, communications and children committees, is due to announce its nominations in the coming days.
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