Shane Ross complained to Taoiseach over bank appointment

Minister objected to Kenny’s attempt to bypass formal process for €275,000-a-year job

Minister for Transport and Independent Alliance member Shane Ross.

Minister for Transport and Independent Alliance member Shane Ross.

 

Minister for Transport Shane Ross wrote to the Taoiseach insisting he was “uncomfortable” at a proposal to make an appointment to a €275,000-a-year job without going through a formal process.

Mr Ross sent a letter to Enda Kenny in early June outlining his frustration with the Taoiseach’s alleged attempt to make a nomination to the European Investment Bank without the proper procedures being followed.

In the correspondence, Mr Ross said the Independent Alliance was “unanimous” in its view that the position should be filled by way of an open, advertised process.

Mr Ross said the five Alliance TDs, including three Ministers of State, were “uncomfortable” with the notion of filling the job internally.

He said the proposal made by Mr Kenny went against the ethos of the Independent Alliance and what they campaigned on in the election.

The letter was sent after a meeting in late May between the two, in which the Taoiseach informed his Cabinet colleague he was seeking to make the appointment without advertising the position.

No names were exchanged, but Mr Ross outlined his opposition and insisted on a rigorous process for such a high-profile appointment.

Letters to Noonan

A series of other letters were then exchanged between Mr Ross and Minister for Finance Michael Noonan about the interview process.

In that correspondence, Mr Ross requested that three people sit on the interview panel and at least two of them be independent of Government.

Mr Noonan and Mr Ross agreed on four members: Department of the Taoiseach secretary general Martin Fraser; Department of Finance secretary general Derek Moran; Policing Authority chair Josephine Feehily; and Low Pay Commission chair Donal de Buitléir.

Ten applications were received for the job and five were interviewed.

A shortlist of three candidates was given to Mr Noonan, who recommended that Mr Kenny’s economic adviser, Andrew McDowell, get the job.

The Cabinet agreed on the appointment at the start of July. It is understood that Mr Ross and Finian McGrath queried the process, but were reassured by the Taoiseach.

They were reluctant to push Fine Gael on the matter at the time, given that the Independent Alliance had been granted a free vote on TD Mick Wallace’s fatal foetal abnormalities Bill.

The correspondence between Mr Kenny and Mr Ross was requested from the Departments of the Taoiseach and Finance under Freedom of Information legislation.

It was refused, with the departments claiming its release could “serve to impair the proper functioning of government”.

Similar requests were made to the Department of Transport, which released the documents earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Independent Alliance is to advertise this week for a co-ordinator to liaise between it and Fine Gael.

There will also be interviews carried out for a deputy Government press secretary to represent Independent members of Cabinet.

The members include Minister for Children Katherine Zappone and Minister for Communications Denis Naughten.