Composite : Credit: Dept of Children via Flickr under Licence CC BY 2.0

Zappone in 2015: “Nod or wink” appointments to boards have no place in democracy

Ex-Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, who was recently appointed to a taxpayer-funded diplomat job, previously asserted that the government should “reach out beyond political insiders” when doling out positions on boards.

Zappone, who was given the paid position of free speech ambassador to the UN after she specifically requested the role, has been embroiled in controversy, with numerous individuals in the media and opposition accusing the government of “cronyism” – a claim which the government has vehemently denied.

However, back in 2015, when Zappone was a Senator, she had some remarks about “political insiders” being given State roles, insisting that “nod and wink” appointments had “no place” in a modern democracy.

“The practice of appointments made with a nod and wink to State boards has no place in our open modern democracy and could damage our economic recovery,” she said.

“We all are in agreement that it is time to end the parish pump system of appointments once and for all and to ensure that the agencies of the State have boards with experience, talent and skills to guide them in the delivery of services to the people.I congratulate the Minister, Deputy Howlin, on his commitment to and work towards this, some of which he outlined in his speech.”

Speaking on the appointment, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told RTÉ: “She was our special envoy to the UN in the last government…She said she’s available. She offered to do the work,” adding that he believed she was the most qualified person for the job.

As covered previously by Gript, while Zappone’s new role is supposedly “freedom of opinion and free expression” czar, she has repeatedly supported pro-censorship policies, both legally and on social media in the past.

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