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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 22 September, 2017
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Labour TD criticises Burton for giving David Begg state board role without public process

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

Updated 12.15

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Everyone’s talking about…

Tánaiste Joan Burton has appointed David Begg, former general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), as chair of the Pension Authority – and the opposition are not happy.

29/5/2014. New MA Programmes on Labour Markets Begg (left) with Burton in 2014. Source: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

Begg will make just over €20,000 a year for five years in the role. He was appointed directly by Burton in her role as Social Protection Minister. There was no public service advertising and appointments process. A spokesperson for Burton said this was permitted under state board guidelines.

Opposition TDs have expressed their frustration at the move, with Sinn Féin’s Martin Ferris describing it as “cronyism”.

Meanwhile Independent Alliance member Shane Ross questioned Begg’s credentials for the role.

Labour TD Ciara Conway was also unhappy with the news. She told Today with Seán O’Rourke:

Why have the rules in place if you’re not going to abide by them? There’s no doubt that he’s a very good person, he’d be excellent at it, but why not go through the procedures? 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?

There is a procedure there and if people are interested they should fill out the form like everybody else.

The Tánaiste said Begg will bring “wide-ranging public sector, business and economic experience to the role combined with a strong background in policy and strategy development”.

As former general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Mr Begg’s demonstrated ability to work with different perspectives will prove invaluable in identifying strategic opportunities as well as developing solutions to the complex challenges currently facing the pensions sector.

Begg recently took on the role of Director of TASC, a think-tank. He is chair of the board of Barnardos, and has experiences on boards with Concern and Trócaire. He has also served on the boards of Aer Lingus, the Central Bank and the National Economic and Social Council.

He will take over his latest position from Jane Williams, who has been in the role since June 2010.

ELECTION 2016

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The agenda

  • Finance Minister Michael Noonan will answer questions in the Dáil at 9.30am.
  • TDs will debate a Sinn Fáin motion on the ongoing crisis in hospital emergency departments at 10.45am and again at 12.41pm.
  • Micheál Martin and others will launch Fianna Fáil’s education policy at 11am in the Alexander Hotel, Dublin.
  • Leaders’ Questions will take place at noon.
  • The Seanad will debate the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 at 12.45pm.

What the others are saying

  • The Irish Independent leads with Labour’s plan to target working families with a pledge of €2-an-hour childcare if re-elected. 
  • The Irish Times reports that the commission investigating IBRC transactions could be given the powers and privileges of a High Court judge. 
  • The same paper notes that Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins has called on the Environment Minister to establish a commission of investigation into the involvement of public bodies in “serious unanswered questions and anomalies surrounding the assembling” of a site in Wexford. 
  • A European Commission report has found that Finance Minister Michael Noonan and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin risked the economic recovery in order to deliver a “political” budget ahead of the general election, according to the Irish Examiner.

In case you missed it

the-lads-2-2

  • In the first of our pre-election debates, Finian McGrath and Mattie McGrath debated whether it’s better to be Independent Alliance or just independent. It was lively.
  • There was a lot of discussion about a Fianna Fáil ad that took aim at Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s infamous promise to “end the scandal of patients on trolleys”. Micheál Martin denied it was negative campaigning.
  • Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said members of Fianna Fáil have told him they are “uncomfortable” with Micheál Martin comparing the party to the mafia.
  • A petition sent to Oireachtas petitions committee asking for an image of UFC Featherweight champion Conor McGregor to be added to the €1 coin was ruled inadmissible.
  • Speaking of public petitions, TDs are going to discuss banning Donald Trump from Ireland.
  • There’s a new website that will help you decide who to vote for in the general election.

Good day for…

Micheál Martin: The Fianna Fáil leader received criticism for his party’s ad mocking Enda Kenny. Whether or not the billboard will work remains to be seen, but it has got everyone talking about Kenny’s unfulfilled promise of ending “the scandal of patients on trolleys“.

Bad day for…

The Social Democrats: Longford councillor Gerry Warnock withdrew from the election.

On the Twitter machine…

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has been enjoying the football.

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