Taoiseach Enda Kenny has become embroiled in a Father Ted-style ‘lovely girls’ controversy over the way he was lobbied to make a State appointment.
The political squall centred on a note apparently given to the Taoiseach by former Fine Gael Minister turned Independent TD Michael Lowry, backing his former press advisor, Valerie O’Reilly, for reappointment to the National Transport Authority board.
It read: “Taoiseach, would you please consider re-appointing Valerie O’Reilly to the board of the NTA. A woman, bright, intelligent and not bad looking either! Michael Lowry,” a Sunday newspaper reported.
The controversy comes on the heels of ‘Cronygate’, in which Mr Kenny was accused of over-looking a raft of prominent female candidates for a vacancy in the Seanad in order to fast-track John McNulty for elevation to the upper house.
The Taoiseach admitted Cronygate was “not his finest hour” when Mr McNulty pleaded for people not to elect him to the role after allegations he had been given a short-lived post on the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in order to boost his credentials for the vacancy on the cultural and educational panel of the Seanad ahead of his selection.
The note has prompted comment about Mr Kenny’s relationship with Mr Lowry.
If Valerie O'Reilly can recover from the 'assistance' given by Michael Lowry she will deserve the job. It will take a PR Guru to spin that!— Clancy (@OverflowRanch) January 25, 2015
Fianna Fáil senator Aevril Power expressed surprise at the tone of the note. “I was mortified for the lady concerned,” she said. “She probably does have strong business credentials, but to be referred to in this Father Ted ‘lovely girls’ sort of way is every women’s worst nightmare.
“It also shows that we need far greater transparency when it comes to State board appointments.
“The fact Deputy Lowry passed such a note to the Taoiseach implies it goes on a lot more often than we would like to think.”
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