Saturday 24 March 2018

Costly NCA board set for scrapheap

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

THE Government is to scrap the board of the National Consumer Agency (NCA) in order to save €170,000 a year.

This comes as the Irish Independent learnt that fees and expenses to board members have already topped €50,000 this year.

The board's 11 members received an average of almost €5,000 each in fees and expenses between January and May even though there were just two board meetings in that time, a Freedom of Information request revealed.

In 2010, board members received almost €134,000 in fees and another €13,817 in travel and subsistence expenses for attending six board meetings which mainly involved briefings on NCA activities.

Celia Larkin, the ex-girlfriend of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, received €4,880 in fees and expenses for four months' work on the board, involving two meetings up to April 2010, when she retired from the position.

The chairperson Stephen Costello, a former Marks & Spencer executive, received €20,520 in fees and €3,445 in expenses in 2010 and so far this year he has received fees of €7,470 and expenses of €883.

Asked why Mr Costello's expenses were much higher than those of other members, an NCA spokesperson said that Mr Costello lived in Co Tipperary and travelled to Dublin frequently to meet with the chief executive Ann Fitzgerald.

Jobs and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton announced yesterday he would scrap the 11-member board of the NCA as soon as it was merged with the Competition Authority.

The Government gave the go-ahead yesterday for the drafting of legislation to set up a new Consumer and Competition Authority. The new group will not have a chief executive officer or a board.

Irish Independent

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