The Irish government has nominated two candidates to succeed former EU commissioner Phil Hogan, who resigned at the end of August, the Irish Times reports.
The candidates are Mairead McGuinness, currently an MEP, and Andrew McDowell, a vice-president of the European Investment Bank (EIB). In line with the request from Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, the government presented a woman and a man for consideration.
Hogan was finally obliged to resign over the scandal known as Golfgate, in which he was accused of breaking the republic’s rules on protection from the coronavirus by travelling without good reason and by attending a dinner at a gold club where around 80 guests were present.
Hogan had been a member of the Commission since 2014, serving under Jean-Claude Juncker as commissioner for agriculture, and later under Von der Leyen on trade, a dossier crucial to the interests of Ireland as Brexit approaches.
Mairead McGuinness has been an MEP since 2017, and is now first vice-president of the parliament, as well as being tipped to take over from current president, Italian David Sassoli, when his term ends at the beginning of 2022. Her background is in agricultural economics and journalism.
Andrew McDowell was chief economic advisor to former Taoiseach Enda Kenny before going to the EIB, where he ended his fixed term appointment as vice-president just last week. He has been credited with leading the Kenny government’s mission to avoid an international bailout and to return to economic recovery.
McDowell’s name was not mentioned in the initial stages of the search for candidates to replace Hogan. Others tipped for the post were foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney and MEP and former justice minister Frances Fitzgerald, who finally had to give way to McGuinness to meet President von der Leyen’s request for male and female contenders.
The two names have now been communicated to the Commission president, who will meet the two candidates and consult with the European Parliament before making her choice. Only then will she decide what dossier the new Irish commissioner will be in charge of.