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'An attempt to blacken my good name': Ceann Comhairle hits out at leaks

Seán Barrett has accused people of “leaking stuff” in an attempt to “blacken my good name” over the appointment of a new Dáil clerk.

YouTube: Hugh O’Connell

CEANN COMHAIRLE SEÁN Barrett has hit out at leaks that he said are “an attempt to blacken my good name” in relation to appointment of a new clerk of the Dáil.

Barrett was speaking during the Order of Business today when Fianna Fáil attempted to the raise the matter of new legislation on public service appointments that could be needed to replace the recently retired Kieran Coughlan.

A row has reportedly broken out between government and Barrett over the appointment with the government wanting an open process for filling the vacancy.

However, Barrett was reported to have wanted to follow the traditional route of appointment where his chosen nominee is approved by the Taoiseach.

“I am being dragged into a controversy over this matter and I resent it very much,” Barrett said today.

He criticised the “shambles that took place” over the appointment process and said that under the 2003 Act on public service appointments he is now going to exercise his right to make the appointment a matter for the Taoiseach.

‘Sit here and take this abuse’

He continued:  ”I’m appearing in newspapers, people are leaking stuff following a consultation process that took place within the law. The content of the leak was totally improper and incorrect and an attempt to blacken my good name.

“I have to sit here and take this abuse without having any right of response.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he respected the independence of the Ceann Comhairle and said that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin intends to bring a memo to government on the matter.

“[It is] our ambition to have an open and transparent conclusion to this matter,” Kenny said.

Coughlan officially retired on 5 August with the assistant secretary in the parliamentary services division, Peter Finnegan, replacing him on an interim basis until a permanent replacement can be appointed.

Read: New law being considered to replace Kieran Coughlan as clerk of the Dáil

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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