Appointment to council position 'flabbergasting'

Fri, Dec 9, 2011, 00:00

SEANAD:THE APPOINTMENT of former secretary general to the Department of Justice and Equality Seán Aylward to a senior role in the Council of Europe has been described in the Seanad as “flabbergasting”.

Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout said the choice of Mr Aylward to be Ireland’s representative on the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture was “deeply distressing for Ireland”.

Ms van Turnhout questioned why the council’s committee of ministers’ deputies, which ultimately made the decision, overturned the recommendation of the council’s legal affairs and human rights committee. That committee had recommended NUI Galway academic Donncha O’Connell.

She suspected that the overturning of the original decision could only have happened if the Government had intervened to ensure Mr Aylward would get the post. She said the “obsession of finding positions for former secretary generals” had to stop. She praised the Government for advertising the position. However, the manner in which Mr Aylward was chosen was an “extremely serious issue”, she said.

Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden said he presented the three names to the council in an “unbiased way”.

Mr Aylward was the number one choice going into the legal affairs and human rights committee until someone objected to his name, and was not the number one choice going into the committee of ministers’ deputies for the final decision.

He maintained ministers were “quite in order” in choose Mr Aylward, who had “excellent qualifications”.