Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, says the manner in which Máire Whelan was appointed to the Court of Appeal smacks of old politics and cronyism.
Ms Whelan’s nomination, pushed by the departing Enda Kenny in one of his last acts as Taoiseach, has become controversial because it has emerged that three High Court judges expressed an interest in the post, and that Ms Whelan was present at Cabinet when her nomination was discussed.
“I am bitterly disappointed in the way this has all been handled,” Minister Moran said. “This is not new politics but more of the old. As deputy whip for the Government for the past 13 months, I tried to ensure that everything was done in the correct manner.
“In the last few days of the Taoiseach, this was supposed to be a parting gesture. It was not on the agenda for the Cabinet. Other members in Government sitting at the table are long enough around to know that this is wrong.”
While Minister Moran says the issue is not enough to prompt his resignation, he gave stark warning that further instances of this kind will not be tolerated.
“The days of doing things this way are gone,” he said. “Fianna Fáil and the Independent Alliance are partners in Government. We all need to sit around the table and sort this stuff out in a transparent way that the public will be happy with.”
Minister Moran made it clear that he does not hold Máire Whelan responsible for the debacle, describing her as “a decent and honourable person who fits the bill”.
He added that he hopes legislation to reform the judicial appointments process, being introduced by Minister Shane Ross, will be in place before the summer.
“Then we can ensure that cronyism never rears its head again,” he said.
The Cabinet agreed on Tuesday this week that a review of procedures relating to appointments will be carried out by Martin Fraser, Secretary General at the Department of the Taoiseach.