Saturday 16 February 2019

Mary Davis got €190,000 in Fianna Fail quango cash

Candidate sat on three state boards

Mary Davis: media scrutiny
'right and proper'
Mary Davis: media scrutiny 'right and proper'
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

PRESIDENTIAL candidate Mary Davis was paid almost €190,000 by state agencies to which she was appointed by Fianna Fail ministers.

Ms Davis, who is contesting the election as an Independent and has attempted to distance herself from the political parties, earned substantial fees from three state boards, the Irish Independent can reveal.

These include the controversial Campus and Stadium Ireland Development agency, to which she was appointed by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to help oversee the failed 'Bertie Bowl' project. The state board payments she received were on top of her €156,000-a-year salary as managing director of the Special Olympics.

Despite repeated requests, Ms Davis failed to provide details of the fees she received from the three agencies throughout the past week.

Ms Davis did not release the details despite saying it was "only right and proper" that the backgrounds of candidates be subject to scrutiny.

However, the Irish Independent has been able to establish from independent sources that she earned €188,400 since 2000 as a result of being appointed to the three state bodies.

The sums include:

€61,600 for sitting on the board of Campus and Stadium Ireland Development (CSID) and later National Sports Campus Development Authority (NSCDA) between 2000 and 2010.

€90,300 for being a board member at the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) from 2004 to 2009.

€36,500 as a director of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, also from 2004 to 2009.

The Irish Independent has established that Ms Davis also received a minimum of €168,750 in fees for sitting on the boards of two off-shoots of Bank of Ireland between 2004 and 2010.

Last night, the Davis campaign downplayed the candidate’s links to Fianna Fail and stressed she was not a member of the party. Ms Davis was appointed to the board of the CSID by Bertie Ahern in 2000 and later reappointed to the re-named NSCDA by then Arts, Sport and Tourism Minister John O’Donoghue in 2007.

The agency oversaw the development of the National Aquatic Centre, which has been beset by controversies over its running costs and legal battles. The plan for an 80,000-seater stadium at Abbotstown, originally proposed by Mr Ahern, was also scrapped during her time on the board.

The late former Transport Minister Seamus Brennan appointed her to the board of the DAA in 2004. During her time at the DAA, the board oversaw controversial pay increases for chief executive Declan Collier. It also approved an investment programme worth more than €1bn, including the construction of Terminal Two at Dublin Airport. Also in 2004, she was made a director of the BCI by then Communications Minister Dermot Ahern.

Despite her reluctance to reveal the payments she received from these agencies, Ms Davis agreed to the release of records revealing her earnings as chief executive of Special Olympics Ireland, and later as managing director of Special Olympics Europe/Eurasia. She earned a total of €824,000 for holding these roles between 2003 and 2010. The Irish Independent has also established Ms Davis earned a minimum of €150,000 as a director of ICS Building Society, a subsidiary of Bank of Ireland, which asked her to join the board in 2004.

Last night, the candidate confirmed she also received fees totalling €18,750 for sitting on the board of another subsidiary, Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank (BOIMB), last year. She no longer holds a position on either bank board and has also taken a leave of absence from Special Olympics. Ms Davis failed to disclose her role with BOIMB this week when her campaign team published on her website what it billed as a full list of state agencies and other bodies she had served on in recent years.

Last Monday, her campaign team said this was because Ms Davis never attended any of the board meetings. However, when pressed on the issue, her spokeswoman said last night that Ms Davis had in fact attended at least two meetings and that its omission from the list was an “oversight”. Asked about Ms Davis’s appointment to state boards by Fianna Fail, her spokeswoman said: “It was the government of the day. Fianna Fail was in power from 1997 to 2011. She is not a member of Fianna Fail.”

She said that Ms Davis had previously been appointed to an unpaid position on the Irish Sports Council by Fine Gael. The spokeswoman also highlighted Ms Davis’s role with notfor- profit organisation UCD Foundation, which she said “she didn’t get a penny for”.

Irish Independent

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