Appointments to climate advisory council ‘not cronyism’

This amounted to important decision to place qualified people in key roles – Coveney

Claims that the appointment of two Green party supporters to a national body by Minister for Climate Action Eamon Ryan amounted to cronyism have been rejected by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

Mr Ryan appointed his former special adviser Prof Morgan D Bazilian and former Green party election candidate Cara Augustenborg to the Climate Action Advisory Council.

Mr Coveney said “this was a decision to put very well qualified people into very important roles”.

The Minister was responding in the Dáil to Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty and Matt Carthy after it emerged that the appointments were made without an open competition.


Mr Doherty said the Minister had appointed “two friends” to the council despite a recommendation from the Oireachtas committee on climate action that there should be an open competitive and transparent process attached to such appointments.

“Minister, I’m sure you’re aware more than most of us here in this House of the need for this given the stroke you tried to pull earlier on in the summer by appointing a former cabinet colleague to a makey-up job,” he said.


Mr Doherty was referring to the controversy over Mr Coveney’s failed appointment of former minister Katherine Zappone as a UN special envoy.

“At the time you said lessons need to be learned from that, but they clearly haven’t because Minister Ryan has done it all over again,” said Mr Doherty.

“Government appointments should be transparent and they should be open and it hasn’t happened in this instance,” he added.

And he asked if Mr Ryan would come before the House to explain how he came to make these appointments.

Mr Coveney replied: “I’m sure there will be an opportunity to ask Minister Ryan his rationale in the context of these appointments”, but they were “eminently qualified for the job that they’re being asked to do”.

Mr Carthy raised the issue later, saying “these acts of cronyism simply aren’t worth it. But it’s also not worth it to try and evade answering genuine questions that need to be put in this regard.”

He said Mr Ryan appointed “two of his close friends to taxpayer-funded positions. This isn’t about qualifications, this is about process.”

And he asked if Mr Coveney was “committing now that Minister Ryan will come before this House to answer questions next week”.

Again rejecting claims that the appointments amounted to cronyism, the Minister replied: “I’m not committing Eamon Ryan to anything. He’s well able to speak for himself.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times