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Government: Fianna Fáil is wrong, new state board rules WILL apply to Irish Water

The Department of Public Expenditure denied there was a loophole in the new guidelines.

Updated: 6.40pm

FIANNA FÁIL HAS claimed that the new rules regarding appointments to state boards won’t apply to ‘New Era’ companies such as Irish Water and ESB.

The party’s Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Seán Fleming said he had found a loophole in the guidelines, but the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform denied this was the case.

A spokesperson for the Department said New Era companies “are covered by the guidelines in a manner that recognises New Era’s existing statutory role as the shareholder’s advisor”.

“The Irish Water board is being stood down and encompassed in the Ervia unified board. Positions in respect of that board are already being advertised on state boards.ie.”

The ‘New Era’ companies include Irish Water, Ervia (formerly Bord Gáis), ESB, Eirgrid, Bord na Móna and Coillte.

Yesterday Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin announced guidelines about how people are to be appointed to state boards.

Earlier this year, the Government was accused of cronyism when John McNulty, Fine Gael’s Seanad nominee, was appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. He withdrew from the election race following the controversy.

Fleming, who has drawn up draft legislation on the subject, noted that while Howlin has asked New Era to talk to the public appointments service to come up with a solution, no timeframe has been set.

“The essential difference between [my] legislation and the Government’s proposal is that Fianna Fáil believes the matter must be dealt with on a statutory basis, not by way of guidelines that have been drawn up to assist Ministers,” Fleming said.

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Órla Ryan

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