Giving jobs to political cronies has long been a cancer at the heart of Irish politics. A brave new era of open competition was trumpeted by Taoiseach Enda Kenny as the way to rid Irish politics of this spectre.
Yet, the litany of broken government promises continues as if nothing had changed. It seems the Fine Gael pledge to advertise public appointments so as to demonstrate its commitment to openness and transparency was mere lip service.
Two departments in particular — health and education — stand accused of breaching the spirit of openness inherent in the Kenny pledge.
Out of 66 appointments made to state boards by the Department of Health, not one was advertised while only two out of 68 at the Department of Education came through the public process.
An example of how things should be done was the appointment of AIB whistleblower Eugene McErlean to the Citizen’s Information Board by the Department of Social Protection. The post was advertised. And there can be no doubting his suitability for the job.
Regrettably, Fine Gael and Labour are aping the worst excesses of their predecessors. Given the lucrative and powerful nature of some posts, there should be no question about their suitability when people are appointed to state boards. The unchanging system makes a mockery of the Taoiseach’s promise of openness and transparency.