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Ruairi seems at home at IBEC candidates' breakfast

RUAIRI Quinn of the Labour Party was a big hit yesterday when he entered Irish capitalism's lion's den by attending an IBEC breakfast for political candidates with an audience that included many of the business community's heavy hitters.

As Mr Quinn squared off against Mary Hanafin of Fianna Fail and sidled up to Fine Gael's Leo Varadkar, the one-time Labour Finance Minister told business leaders that the public sector needed a radical overhaul, not just some mild reform.

He knocked any suggestion that Labour would soft-pedal on the issue in office.

"The biggest partner the public sector unions had in partnership was Fianna Fail," he told a room packed to the rafters with chief executives and chief financial officers and hangers-on from the by now ubiquitous alphabet soup of accountancy and consultancy firms that seem to pack into every forum these days.

"You know who did the deals, and the side deals," he said.

Far from Labour being a barrier to change, Mr Quinn said the public sector was crying out for leadership.

It needs a British Empire-era hierarchy flattened out and its talent liberated, he (almost) cried.

Mr Quinn's prognosis was greeted with sustained applause, but maybe that should be no real surprise.

Perhaps the brother and cousin of two of Ireland's most important entrepreneurs is closer to home in IBEC HQ than the goatee might suggest.

ICOS grabs experience

TOM O'Callaghan has moved from Rockwell Automation to the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, where he will be chief executive.

Mr O'Callaghan will be milking experience drawn from a five-year stint at Glanbia's US cheese operations, as well as periods with Kerry Group in five different continents.

The University of Limerick graduate has recently spent time helping Rockwell sell in Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and Turkey.

Talking up the Zoo

EMMA Kiernan, known to some as head of marketing at Arnotts and marketing manager for Newstalk and a former brand manager at the UK's 'Observer' newspaper and Brown Thomas, will now be selling Dublin Zoo's monkeys and lions to the public.

With one million customers, the zoo is already one of Ireland's top visitor attractions.

The 36-year-old UCD Smurfit School of Business graduate, who is a recent mother herself, is busy promoting the zoo through RTE's excellent new series on Friday's evening.

Avoca targets London

DUBLIN'S Avoca Capital Holdings, a credit fund which oversees €6bn, has lured Robert Burns from Citigroup for its sales and marketing efforts, as part of the Dublin's company's expansion into London.

Mr Burns will be a director in Avoca's London office, reporting to Clayton Perry, the chief operating office. Mr Burns was previously a director in Citigroup's structured product sales.

Irish Independent