Maire Geoghegan-Quinn: too busy

IRELAND'S EU Commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn snubbed an invite from a government committee to appear before it to answer questions on her new job.

Geoghegan-Quinn, who recently agreed to temporarily give up her TD and ministerial pension following sustained pressure, said she was too busy to take part in the committee session.

Aware that the newly-appointed commissioner has a heavy workload in her new job, the committee had even offered the opportunity of taking part in a video conference from her European office.

That would have meant Geoghegan-Quinn would simply have had to sit in a boardroom in Brussels for half an hour to answer questions, rather than return to Dublin.

However, in what was perceived as a direct snub to the Joint Committee on European Scrutiny, the commissioner wrote back to say she would be declining the opportunity.

The Joint Committee on European Scrutiny is chaired by the Fine Gael TD John Perry and is made up of eleven TDs and five senators from across the political spectrum. Members of the committee were unhappy at Geoghegan-Quinn's perceived snub and believe she feared being questioned about her ministerial pension.

The invite came at the height of controversy over pension payments to the EU Commissioner, which totalled more than €100,000.

Geoghegan-Quinn commands a salary of almost €250,000 for her new job and faced criticism for holding on to the pension as both a former TD and minister.

One member said: "It is ironic because there would have been no questions about the pension issue and it would probably have been a relatively smooth experience for her."

A spokesman for Geoghegan-Quinn said she would appear before a separate Oireachtas panel, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs, later in the year.