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Fab Four

Senior Labour minister takes aim at Enda & Joan's decision-making closed-shop

The powerful EMC – made up of the Taoiseach, Burton, and ministers Noonan and Howlin – generally addresses issues of economic policy, before they are put to the wider Cabinet.

THE MAN WHO challenged Joan Burton for the leadership of the Labour party has said that the four person Economic Management Council, which the Tánaiste sits on, should not become a fixture of the political system.

Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics today, Communications Minister Alex White said that while he had no problem generally with Cabinet sub-committees, the existence of the four person panel — comprising the Taoiseach, Burton, Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin — should be examined.

“I do think that there is a point to be made about the EMC in the long-term,” White said.

“I would say that I think it’s right that the Cabinet should have sub-committees for other areas dealing with the economy, as it’s had during the economic crisis that followed the last government.

“[...] In the long-term, under our constitution we’ve Cabinet Government.

“I think it’s right that we have Cabinet committees —- but let’s see whether we should have something as powerful as the EMC. I’m not persuaded that should be a long term fixture.”

Niall Carson ... Alex White and Joan Burton Niall Carson ... Alex White and Joan Burton

White and Environment Minister Alan Kelly also attended a meeting of the committee this week, as part of Government attempts to get to grips with the Irish Water crisis.

Generally, the powerful team of ministers addresses issues of economic policy before they are put to the wide Cabinet.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has denied that it’s an “autocratic, dictatorial” set-up, and said that insinuation that the four-person council is in charge of all decisions is “a myth”.

Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy, who sits on the Public Accounts Committee, has also been critical of the system — saying earlier this week that while there was a need for a solid structure during the Troika period, it shouldn’t set a “precedent for peacetime”.

Read: Barry Cowen to Phil Hogan: ‘You misled Dáil’. Hogan: ‘No, you did’.

Read: Kenny: It’s a myth that the Economic Management Council makes all the decisions

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