Mairead McGuinness becomes new European commissioner

Mairead McGuinness

image copyrightPA Media

image captionMairead McGuinness has a wealth of experience working in the European Parliament

Mairead McGuinness has been announced as Ireland’s European commissioner.

She was

nominated alongside Andrew McDowell for the role by the Irish government last week.

Phil Hogan resigned from the job last month after he faced accusations of breaching Covid-19 guidelines.

Ms McGuinness will take over the Financial Services, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union portfolio if she is approved by the European Parliament.

Former Latvian PM Valdis Dombrovskis has been given the Trade portfolio, left vacant following the resignation of Mr Hogan.

Mairead McGuinness is currently vice-president of the European Parliament and represents the north west constituency of the Republic of Ireland in the European Parliament.

She has been a vice-president of the parliament since July 2014.

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image captionEuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen led the appointment process

Ms McGuinness was chosen for the role after both nominees were interviewed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

President von der Leyen described the candidates as “excellent” saying they both showed “great commitment to the European Union and to the job of Commissioner”.

“Ms McGuinness has significant political experience on EU issues, having been an MEP since 2004,” she said.

“This experience is crucial in carrying forward the EU’s financial sector policy agenda and ensuring it supports and strengthens the Commission’s key priorities, notably the twin green and digital transition.”

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Micheál Martin said in a tweet it was “a great day” for Ms McGuinness and her family.

“I’ve no doubt whatsoever that she will serve with distinction and will play a key role in the work of the Commission,” he added.

The Irish government had been asked to nominate one male and one female candidate by Mrs von der Leyen.

Mr McDowell is former chief economic adviser to the government from 2011 to 2016, working closely with then Taoiseach (Irish PM) Enda Kenny.

Why did Phil Hogan resign?

Mr Hogan stepped down from the EU trade commissioner post on 26 August, after facing criticism for attending a golf dinner with more than 80 people in County Galway on 19 August.

He was also accused of not complying with quarantine rules when he arrived in Ireland from Brussels.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionPhil Hogan attended the Irish parliamentary golf society event at a County Galway hotel

Mr Hogan said he did not break any law but he “should have been more rigorous” in adherence to the Covid guidelines.

Mr Hogan – who would have been leading the EU’s post-Brexit free trade negotiations with the UK – had been facing calls to quit in the wake of #GolfGate, as it has become known in Ireland.

The now infamous golf dinner was attended by a host of high-profile figures from Irish political life.

The controversy surrounding it has already cost the jobs of Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary and Jerry Buttimer, deputy chairman of the Irish senate.

Gardaí (Irish police) have said they are investigating what happened at the dinner.

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