Monday 19 March 2018

Varadkar moves to break up CIE's board structure

Shane Ross

The new Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has decided to abolish the position of executive chairman of CIE, currently held by John Lynch.

The minister is replacing the old system of political appointments to key posts at the semi-state by advertising vacancies for non-executive positions. Mr Varadkar will appoint four separate non-executive chairpersons to the controversial semi-state.

Advertisements are to be placed in the national media shortly seeking chairpersons, not only for the parent company CIE, but also for its three subsidiaries, Iarnrod Eireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann.

Interviews to fill the posts will be held over the next three months. At the end of the 12-week process, Mr Lynch will be stepping down.

The move contrasts sharply with the last Government's decision to appoint Marian McGennis to the board of Dublin Bus, just 24 hours before it left office. Ms McGennis is a former Fianna Fail councillor, senator and TD.

CIE's board has been the subject of criticism in recent months because of the presence of several board members associated with Fianna Fail. Chairman of the audit committee Paul Kiely was an associate of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, while board member Seamus Sheerin was a subscriber to ex-Taoiseach Brian Cowen's political funds.

The non-executive board members refused to appear before an Oireachtas sub-committee on transport to answer questions about corporate governance at the company.

Mr Lynch was due to retire at the end of March but has been given an extension until the new appointments are made.

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