Minister for Hypocrisy; Eamon Ryan Has Condemned Political Appointments to State Jobs for Years, So Why Did HE Hand over a Plum Post?

Article excerpt

Byline: Senan Molony Political Editor

HE MADE himself the public face of reform, but now Green Party Minister Eamon Ryan has become what he campaigned against.

A vocal critic of politicians directly appointing people to State boards, Minister Ryan has done exactly that after appointing a new energy regulator - after a personal telephone call and a chat - with no competitive applications or even a formal interview.

The Irish Daily Mail can reveal the minister has given the plum job - Commissioner for Energy Regulation, worth E165,000 a year - to Garrett Blaney This means the former nuclear power station manager and cycling enthusiast will receive E825,000 from the taxpayer over the next five years - and could make more than E1.6million if he serves for a decade as his predecessor did.

There was no interview for the appointment of Mr Blaney, even though there was an open competition the last time such a post was filled.

Mr Blaney told the Mail that he got a phone call out of the blue from Mr Ryan before Christmas. He confirmed that he was invited to apply for the opportunity at a high salary level. The minister then met him personally for a chat - and his appointment was approved by Cabinet last week.

There was no advertisement of the job and no one else had a chance to apply - despite Minister Ryan boasting in recent weeks of breaking the culture of political preferment by allowing a Dail committee to vet appointments.

Mr Blaney said: 'He [Minister Ryan] called me in, and we had a discussion, and then there as a ratification process in that the appointment had to go before Cabinet.' Mr Blaney said he first met the minister when he was an opposition TD and Viridian Energy, Mr Blaney's former employer, was making political contacts.

Mr Blaney also confirmed he was a member of the Dundalk Cycling Alliance, but said he had never been a Green Party member.

Critics have now accused the minister of hypocrisy. In March 2007, just before he gained power in that year's election, Minister Ryan spoke about reform of State appointments in the Dail. He said: 'The Irish people are not stupid, and they see it as it is. The parties opposite [Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats] have been so long in power that they have become corrupted by power, and they appoint friends to bodies on the basis of medieval kings in their fiefdoms granting favours. …