Le cúpla seachtain anuas, agus ag deireadh an tsamhraidh, bhíomar ag déileáil leis an dóigh atá an Rialtas ag láimhseáil ceapacháin go dtí boird an Stáit. Tráthnóna inniu beidh an Coiste um Airgeadas, Caiteachas Poiblí agus Athchóiriú, agus an Taoiseach; agus an Coiste um Chuntais Phoiblí ag cur tuairisc chun tosaigh ó thaobh na dóighe a rinneadh ceapacháin an Ard-Rúnaí Robert Watt chuig an Roinn Sláinte gan aon phróiseas mar is ceart. Le linn an tsamhraidh, bhíomar ag déileáil leis an dóigh a chuir Fine Gael an t-iarAire Katherine Zappone isteach ar bhord an Stáit fosta. Anois, le cúpla seachtain anuas táimid ag caint ar an dóigh a láimhseáil an tAire, an Teachta Eamon Ryan, ceapachán beirte do bhord an Stáit.
Today, the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach; and the Committee of Public Accounts will publish their report into the appointment of Robert Watt as Secretary General at the Department of Health. It is an appointment that the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, was involved in. There was not any proper process. During the summer, there was the Zapponegate scenario, where Fine Gael was appointing a former Minister into a made-up job paid for the public purse. A number of weeks ago, the Minister appointed two friends to the Climate Change Advisory Council despite a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Climate Action that there should be an open, competitive and transparent process attached to such appointments. Cronyism is at the heart of how this Government does its business. That is without doubt. We have seen it clearly since the summer.
I know that most people would have expected higher standards from the Green Party but that is not what is coming from it. Once the Minister had the opportunity to dole out jobs for his friends, he was shown to be just as capable as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are at doling out those jobs. I know that the two members appointed are eminently qualified. Their qualifications are not in question. That is not the issue. One of these individuals was a former special adviser to the Minister. The other was a Green Party election candidate. These positions are paid from the public purse, at €10,000 per year, with travel and subsistence claims on top of that. They are paid for by the taxpayer. The taxpayer deserves no less than a transparent, open and accountable process but the Minister let the taxpayers down.
Nothing precludes the Government from making sure that all appointments are transparent and open but it has not happened in this instance. We have sought clarity on this for two weeks. We have asked about the appointment process but nothing has been forthcoming. Why did the Minister pull this stroke? Why did he decide to ignore the Joint Committee on Climate Action? Why did he breach his own guidelines on the appointment process? Why did he believe it was right to appoint a former special adviser and election candidate to this position without any due process?
There is a wider issue with regard to this. The Climate Change Advisory Council has an important role to play. It guides the response to the climate crisis. It is vital that it is independent of the Government and that the advice the Government receives is not predetermined or reflective of ideological persuasions. That is crucial for this council. Independent advice is of no use if the Government is simply getting the advice that it wants to hear on critical issues such as carbon tax, which are hitting ordinary families hard while the Government fails to provide alternatives.
Why did the Minister ignore the Government's own guidelines in appointing these two individuals to this State board? Does he accept that this was just an old-fashioned political stroke?