Labour TD Ciara Conway hits out at Joan Burton over David Begg State board appointment

A backbench Labour TD has called into question her own leader’s decision to give a close party associate a State board job outside of the normal public appointments process.

Waterford-based Ciara Conway broke ranks to hit out at Tánaiste Joan Burton after she named the ex-secretary general of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, David Begg, as the new pensions authority chair.

Ms Conway said there is no point in having anti-cronyism rules if they are just going to be broken.

Under the move, Mr Begg has been handed a five-year role leading the State body alongside a total €100,000-plus pay packet.

The decision took place after Mr Begg was put forward by Ms Burton, despite the fact any State board appointment is meant to go through a wider public appointments process.

While a spokesperson for Ms Burton said the move is allowed when the chosen applicant is clearly able to do the job and that existing rules are “flexible” to allow for such personal decisions, the opposition parties have accused the Government of cronyism.

Ms Conway said her own party leader was wrong to side-step the usual appointments process.

“Why have the rules in place if you’re not going to abide by them,” Ms Conway told RTÉ radio.

“I don’t understand that, even as someone in Government, even as somebody in my own party. Why set a rule and then break it?”

Labour TD Ciara Conway hits out at Joan Burton over David Begg State board appointment

The decision to appoint Mr Begg in the final weeks before the general election was greeted with opposition anger, with Fianna Fáil jobs spokesman Dara Calleary saying the appointment is akin to “bestowing a Labour Party favour”.

Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris said that “cronyism is alive and well”.

A number of Labour TDs told the Irish Examiner they did not share Ms Conway’s views.

Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch said she did not believe it was an error of judgment to appoint Mr Begg.


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