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READ: Nessa Childers' attack on Phil Hogan over social housing

She said Hogan’s appointment in Europe would be “a step backwards for equality.”

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

INDEPENDENT MEP NESSA Childers has said it would be a “step backwards for equality” if the government’s nominee Phil Hogan were appointed to the European Commission.

In a strongly-worded letter to 191 MEPs from the Socialists & Democrats grouping, Childers said she has “serious reservations” about the former Environment Minister’s appointment by the Taoiseach as Ireland’s Commissioner-designate.

It is my belief that appointing someone with Mr Phil Hogan’s profile would send a very ominous signal to those who suffer and fight discrimination in Europe, on ethnic and on other grounds.

Childers’ concerns date back to September 2012, when the Carlow-Kilkenny TD wrote letters which put forward opposition from constituents about the granting of social housing to a local Traveller family.  

Hogan has strongly rejected the accusations against him, saying  he passed on concerns to the local housing authorities “in good faith”

The Dublin MEP described Hogan’s conduct in that controversy as “potentially illegal under equality and housing legislation,” and “incompatible with the proper discharge of the duties incumbent upon a European Commissioner.”

At his hearing, Mr Hogan will have to answer for his representations to local authorities, at the behest of some constituents, opposing the allocation of housing to a family on the basis of their ethnicity.
This is tantamount to discriminatory behaviour that flies in the face of EU fundamental rights principles and legislation.

Labour Party Grass Roots Meetings Source: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Childers’ open attack, dated 1 September, on the former Fine Gael Minister and close ally of Enda Kenny could prove another blow to his chances of being given a top European Commission portfolio.

The Taoiseach said over the weekend he’d like to see Hogan in a “jobs and growth” role, but it has also been reported that he is in competition for the position of Agriculture Commissioner.

Newly-elected European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker began interviewing commissioners-designate yesterday, but there has been much recent speculation that Hogan will miss out on a more desirable commission portfolio.

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France Europe New Leader Jean-Claude Juncker Source: Christian Lutz

‘Do the best thing for our country and withdraw’

Separately, the Green Party today called on Hogan to withdraw his candidacy altogether, “in order to allow [the Taoiseach] to nominate a female candidate to represent Ireland.”

Deputy Leader Catherine Martin said a female nominee would be in keeping with the principle of gender equality, but would also be in Ireland’s strategic interests:

21 countries, including Ireland, have failed to nominate a female candidate. This is an affront to half of Europe’s population…
Mr Juncker has made clear his intention to reward countries which nominate female Commissioners, and it would be remiss of Phil Hogan to not do the best thing for our country and withdraw his nomination.

Scroll down to read Nessa Childers’ letter to S & D MEPs.

Read: Taoiseach – We want a ‘jobs and growth’ role for Hogan… but it’s Juncker’s choice>

Hogan ‘pandering to prejudice’ says Travellers advocacy group>


About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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