THE chairman of Bus Eireann is living over 7,000km away – in Dubai – at a time when the company is at risk of going out of business due to a crippling strike.
Paul Mallee was appointed two years ago by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar as chair of the troubled semi-state company.
But the Irish Independent has learned that a month after his appointment he got a senior position with Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi.
He spent a year there and then moved to a position with the United Arab Shipping Company in Dubai.
But while he is working in Dubai, Bus Eireann is facing the threat of all bus workers going on strike on Sunday in a dispute over pay cuts. And Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has warned that the company's future is at stake unless savings are made to reduce its multi-million euro losses.
His location in Dubai has led to a member of the Coalition Government to call on Bus Eireann to review his position.
Since he took over in July 2011, he has flown back to attend 17 out of 18 Bus Eireann board meetings. He attended the other meeting by video-conference.
He paid for the cost of his flights – with Bus Eireann confirming that his location abroad had not resulted in any extra costs for the company.
It also said that he was in "constant contact" with senior management about the industrial dispute with bus workers.