European lawmakers saved the Irish government from an embarrassing political setback on Tuesday when they ignored the misgivings of a key committee and approved Dublin's nominee to the European Court of Auditors.

Ireland's nomination of Kevin Cardiff, the top civil servant at its finance ministry, created a storm of controversy in Dublin due to widespread criticism of the ministry's role in Ireland's economic crash and a recent revelation that it had miscalculated the national debt for over a year.

Cardiff had exacerbated the furore by telling Irish lawmakers that the job at the European Court of Auditors would be a doddle (very easy) compared to his current role.

Members of the European Parliament voted 521 to 128 in favour of his nomination, with 34 abstentions.

Last month, the parliament's budget control committee narrowly rejected Cardiff's nomination.

Nessa Childers, an MEP from Ireland's Labour party, junior partner in the ruling coalition, said she did not approve of the parliamentary vote.

The committee voted against it but very high level contacts occurred at government levels between the heads of the Irish government and the political groups and I think democracy has been interfered with. I think my mandate as an MEP has been interfered with, she told Ireland's Newstalk radio.

But a fellow Labour MEP said the European Parliament had made the right choice.

Fair play was the result. I think the size of the majority he got demonstrated that a lot of the confusion that had been created by a negative campaign by a number of MEPs and by the outgoing auditor had been cleared up, Proinsias de Rossa told Irish state broadcaster RTE.

(Reporting by Carmel Crimmins; Editing by Kevin Liffey)