Galway’s newest Government Minister has defended himself against a charge of ‘cronyism’ from a political opponent.
Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, Seán Kyne, the Galway West TD, has confirmed he has appointed Galway City Councillor John Walsh as his ministerial driver.
Both men are in Fine Gael, and are friends.
Councillor Walsh, who served as deputy mayor of the city, canvassed for Deputy Kyne during the recent general election.
Minister Kyne is also friendly with Brian Walsh, his former Dáil colleague who retired on health grounds, and brother of Councillor John Walsh.
Deputy Kyne declined to discuss the cost involved but it is understood ministerial driver positions command a salary of about €30,000. Councillor Walsh currently works nights at a city factory but Minister Kyne said he would be giving up that job.
Driving the minister to functions around the country can be tiring, and days are long, but this is often offset through overtime payments, sources said.
Minister Kyne is entitled to two drivers. He confirmed that he has yet to appoint a second driver.
Connemara-based Sinn Féin senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh called on Minister Kyne to clarify the appointment, and said there should be an open and transparent recruitment process.
Minister Kyne told the Connacht Tribune he has appointed the right person for the job. “At the end of the day it is a political job, and you need someone who you can trust politically and who you get on with,” he said.
For more on this story, see the Connacht Tribune.