Saturday 22 July 2017

Ross has not yet filled 43 vacancies on state boards

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Picture: Steve Humphreys
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross Picture: Steve Humphreys
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Forty-three board vacancies still exist under Shane Ross's remit despite changes made to the appointments system at the minister's request.

Last year, the Transport Minister said he could not fill 36 gaps because he had too much ministerial discretion when it came to selecting candidates.

In February, a new set of guidelines was put in place to meet Mr Ross's demands - but an analysis by the Irish Independent shows the number of board vacancies is continuing to rise.

Among the key State agencies with under-strength boards are the DAA, Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, Sport Ireland and Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

Many of the vacancies date back to before Mr Ross took office in May of last year.

Fianna Fáil's transport spokesperson Robert Troy said Mr Ross is the "all talk, no action minister".

Our analysis shows there are now 43 vacancies on 16 out of the 25 boards under the minister's aegis. Mr Ross has made a series of reappointments to boards but the only new selections have been on the Marine Casualty Investigation Board and the board of Tourism Ireland.

Last November the Irish Independent revealed details of a growing backlog of appointments on the minister's desk.

In relation to two vacancies at Sport Ireland, he noted that 34 CVs had been sent to him following a competition run though publicjobs.ie.

"How in the name of God am I meant to make a selection unless I interview all of the candidates, which I clearly cannot do," he said.

It also subsequently emerged Mr Ross was locked in dispute with the Road Safety Authority over the size of its board. The minister sought a review of the appointments process by the Department of Public Expenditure.

New "general procedures" were introduced to ensure more vetting of CVs and that the minister may "at his discretion" decide not to fill certain existing or future Board vacancies. Asked whether the new rules met the minister's requirements and, if so, why vacancies weren't being filled, a spokesperson said: "Yes, he is satisfied with the changes and they are being followed.

"And he anticipates that the vacancies will be filled as soon as is practicable."

Mr Ross had complained that in some cases he was being sent a substantial number of CVs without a single candidate being interviewed.

He said the Public Appointments Service was refusing to rank candidates and he had no way of knowing whether the qualifications being cited by applicants were verified.

Irish Independent

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