Friday 23 March 2018

Tánaiste uses little-known clause to personally appoint chairman of State board

Tánaiste Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke
Tánaiste Joan Burton. Photo: Tom Burke
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

TÁNAISTE Joan Burton has used a little known clause in the new public appointment rules to personally appoint former trade union leader David Begg as chairman of a State board.

Mr Begg, who resigned last year as general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), will receive more than €20,000-a-year in his new role as chairman of the Pension Authority.

On his retirement, the Labour Party leader lavished praise on the union boss saying he was a “relentlessly hard-working servant for the labour movement”.

“David played a key role in supporting the work of the Labour Party in ensuring collective bargaining is legislated for by this Government,” Ms Burton added.

Today, the Tanaiste used a rule in the State board guidelines, which were established to avoid accusations of cronyism, to personally appoint Mr Begg to the position on the State board.

Ms Burton’s spokesman said the rules are “flexible” on the appointment of State board chairs and permits ministers to independently appoint individuals who are “evidentially and objectively highly qualified” for positions. 

The Public Appointment Service was given the responsibility to select candidates for State board positions following the John McNulty Seanad fiasco.

In a statement, Ms Burton said Mr Begg will bring “wide-ranging public sector, business and economic experience” to the role.

“As former General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Mr Begg’s demonstrated ability to work with different perspectives will prove invaluable in identifying strategic opportunities as well as developing solutions to the complex challenges currently facing the pensions sector,” she said.

“I wish David Begg every success in his position and I am confident he will be able to build on the pension reforms made in recent years.  As we seek to improve levels of pension provision, the role of the Authority will be key in the reform and simplification of the pensions landscape, in ensuring schemes operate effectively and in providing a regulatory structure which gives pension savers confidence in the system,” she added.

Mr Begg is currently Chairman of Barnardos and was also was chief executive of Concern Worldwide in the late 1990s. He served also on the boards of Aer Lingus, the Central Bank and the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). 

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