MEP Childers Opposes Hogan Nomination
Nessa Childers MEP has written to fellow members of the Socialist and Democrats faction in the European Parliament expressing her deep reservation over Ireland's nomination of Phil Hogan for a top European post.
Mr. Hogan left his position as Ireland's Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, where he oversaw the roll out of a controversial water tax, in anticipation of the nomination. He was widely expected to become Europe's Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, but his nomination is now subject to some speculation.
Nessa Childers MEP
The MEP's reservations stem from an incident in Hogan's home constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny, where he intervened in a social housing dispute. Mr. Hogan wrote letters in opposition to a plan to allocate social housing to a minority group. Describing Hogan's role in the affair as "potentially illegal" and "tantamount to discriminatory behaviour", Childers has expressed her concerns to all 191 members of the S+D, the second largest grouping in the European Parliament.
In her letter she wrote that it would be a "step back for equality" in Europe if Hogan were to be appointed, and that the appointment of someone with Hogan's profile would "send a very ominous signal to those who suffer and fight discrimination in Europe, on ethnic and on other grounds."
According to Childers, Hogan's previous conduct is "incompatible with the proper discharge of the duties incumbent upon a European Commissioner."
This is a clever move by Childers, and an attempt to demonstrate real influence in the S+D to the Irish people. Were Hogans appointment to the Agriculture portfolio to be unsuccessful, it would be met with glee by many in Ireland, where he was the unsympathetic face behind the controversial water charges.
If the S+D vote against the Commission's line up for the new term, it will almost certainly not be a result of Childers' pressure. The S+D has already come out strongly against the potential College of Commissioners on gender equality grounds, stating that the current make up would be a "step back on gender balance." There are only 4 women nominated for the 27 roles. According to the S+D, they will not support a Commission line up with fewer than 8 female Commissioners, the number of female Commissioners in Manuel Barroso's Commission.
However, respect for minorities was another key value earmarked as key by the S+D, further adding to the doubt over Hogan.
If the S+D go on to oppose the current roster of Commissioners, it will be a big boost domestically for Childers. It will be seen as a loss for Fine Gael, Hogan's political party and the current leaders of the government in Ireland.
Childers will steal the headlines in Ireland if the Commission line up is rejected, or even more so if Hogan is relegated to less influential portfolio. The headlines in Ireland would describe Europe's rejection of "Big Phil".
Childers has played the situation perfectly. She stands only to gain if the S+D retain their current position, even though her concerns may have very little bearing on the fate of Mr. Hogan.