Ministers piled pressure on MEPs to ignore the decision of a key European Parliament committee which voted against Mr Cardiff taking a lucrative position at the Court of Auditors after Labour TDs “ambushed” the current holder of the office in a Dáil committee showdown.
Eoin O’Shea, the outgoing Irish member of the court, was forced to make a groveling public apology for sending a stinging email, lobbying MEPs to block Cardiff’s appointment. Mr O’Shea was confronted with his email at a tense Dáil committee meeting where Government TDs insisted that it be read out, despite the auditor’s protests.
He admitted sending the email to some members on the Brussels budgetary committee which rejected Mr Cardiff’s appointment by a single vote.
Mr O’Shea said he regretted the move “almost immediately” and branded it an angry “moment of madness” after he realised the Government would not re-nominate him — but he insisted the move would not have unduly influenced the Brussels vote.
The email stated: “I just wanted to let you know the Irish Govt have decided to replace me at the Court. Their suggestion is an Irish civil servant who was responsible for financial supervision during the period of the collapse of the Irish banks.
“I believe there will be further details in respect of this appointment which will be of interest to the Parliament because of the Irish prosecutorial interest in whether or not the State condoned the window dressing of the financial accounts of Irish financial institutions in respect of €7bn.”
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore denied the email release was a “hijacking” of the situation, insisting the matter would go to a full vote of the European Parliament next month.
Amid strong criticism from opposition and some Coalition MEPs, Independent Shane Ross said the Government stance was “humiliating” Ireland. The budgetary committee may reconsider Cardiff’s application for the €180,000-a-year post following the row over Mr O’Shea’s email.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was “disappointed” by the email, but refused to be drawn on removing him from his post.
Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly, who questioned the suitability of Mr Cardiff for the post, said the revelations about Mr O’Shea’s emails “changes the dynamic” and he would support his nomination now.
Labour MEP Nessa Childers said the email was “entirely inappropriate” but she has not changed her opinion about his suitability.