Geraldine Feeney is a former senator from Fianna Fáil who is government nominated for one of two vacant positions with the political ethics watchdog, Sipo.
Deputy Paul Murphy last week asked Sipo to investigate whether Tánaiste Leo Varadkar broke the Code of Conduct for Public Officials by handing over a confidential document to former NAPG President Maitiú Ó Tuathail.
The NAGP union, which has now been dissolved, was founded in 2013, but was liquidated in 2019.
In today’s Dáil, Sinn Féins asked Pearse Doherty TD questions about Feeney’s appointment to Sipo and asked if this should be discussed in house.
Doherty said that one of the two vacancies on Sipo must be filled by a former member of the Oireachtas and that Feeney “meets these criteria”.
“I’m sure the Tánaiste is aware – maybe he can tell us if he is so aware – that Ms. Feeney is not just a former Oireachtas member,” said Doherty.
“She also became a professional lobbyist. The question arises as to whether it is appropriate to bring a motion to the House without debate and to appoint not only a former member of the Oireachtas but also a professional lobbyist for Sipo. ”
There is another problem. Ms. Geraldine Feeney has only ever campaigned for the NAGP in her role as a lobbyist. Her eight returnees to standards in the Public Office Commission show this. The Tánaiste is aware that there is a complaint regarding his behavior that Sipo must decide on.
Feeney is listed on the state’s lobby register as a former lobbyist who campaigned for the NAGP in 2017 and 2018, including a meeting with today’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin in May 2017.
Feeney was a member of Seanad Éireann from 2002 to 2011.
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In a tweet this afternoon, Rise told TD Murphy that the government should withdraw the nomination.
In response to Doherty’s question at the Dáil today, Varadkar said that Feeney’s nomination is on the advice of Fianna Fáil, Minister for Public Affairs, Michael McGrath.
“The idea of having a former politician at SIPO is to have someone who has a working understanding of the work we do as politicians. I believe it was Mr. Jim O’Keeffe in the past and it is now proposed to be Ms. Geraldine Feeney, ”said Varadkar.
The Tánaiste added that it was up to the business committee whether or not her nomination would be discussed in the Dáil.
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