Former Fine Gael councillor Connie Hanniffy has defended her appointment to the newly established National Oversight and Audit Commission (NOAC) by Environment Minister Phil Hogan.
Speaking to the Offaly Independent the Doon councillor said the fact she’s a member of the Fine Gael party should not preclude her from taking up the new position.
“I don’t think the fact that I am a political animal should bar me, if I have the qualification and skills necessary,” Ms Hanniffy said, adding that she thinks she ticks “all the boxes” for her new role.
Sixty-four year old Hanniffy was elected to Offaly County Council in 1974, aged just 25, and was the council’s first female councillor. In the 40 years between then and now she has worked as a local representative not only with that council, but also with the Midland Regional Authority, the Border Midlands and Western Regional Assembly, the Association of County and City Councils and on the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.
“If I, with all this under my belt, am not qualified to be placed in this position, I can’t see any reason I shouldn’t be,” she added.
The NOAC’s functions will include scrutinising the performance of local government bodies, monitoring adherence to service level agreements entered into and overseeing how national policy is implemented locally among other tasks.
Ms Hanniffy’s colleagues within the group will include former councillors in Dublin City and Kildare, Labour’s Henry Upton and Fine Gael’s Michael Nolan.
Ms Hanniffy explained that she applied for the NOAC post on May 23, the final day applications were being accepted, with a CV and cover letter. Not interviewed for the position, she was informed of her appointment in the last week.
Though Ms Hanniffy said she’s not sure interviews are always the best way to find the right person for the job, she maintained she would nonetheless have done well had she been interviewed for the job. Questioned on whether she would have gotten the job had appointments not been made by fellow Fine Gael member Phil Hogan, she said she feels she should.
“I feel I am very well suited to it,” she said. “I feel an independent body would find it quite hard to turn down my application with the credentials I possess.”
Ms Hanniffy said she has yet to find out how much she will be paid for her work with the NOAC, and how time consuming the role will be. However she surmised her new job will take up a significant amount of time, given the scope of its responsibilities.