THE proposed chair of the Shannon Group described social welfare recipients as “kn***ers” and suggested members of the Travelling community were involved in “stealing, intimidating and illegal parking”.
Agri-food businessman Aaron Forde was forced to withdraw from the position hours after his appointment was announced when details of his comment on social media were raised with Transport Minister Eamon Ryan.
Mr Ryan issued a statement saying he had spoken with Mr Forde about his comments on Twitter and had decided not to proceed with the appointment.
In a letter to the minister last night, Mr Forde apologised “unreservedly” for his comments which he said were “wrong, insensitive and needless”.
“In particular, I wish to apologise to people from the Traveller community,” he added.
The Irish Independent asked Mr Ryan last night for his views on Mr Forde’s use of the word “kn***ers” in relation to social welfare recipients and his criticisms of the Green Party on Twitter.
In response to a tweet about the legal basis of public service cards, Mr Forde wrote: “Do the kn***ers who are collecting multiple SW [social welfare] payments have one.”
When contacted about his tweets on social welfare recipients, Mr Forde said he “did not recall them”. Shortly after the conversation the businessman’s Twitter account was deleted.
Mr Forde described the Green Party on Twitter as “clueless about agriculture, climate and lots of other issues”. When contacted he said he has “views on climate” as someone who spent their “life in agriculture” but added: “I wouldn’t say anyone is useless.”
In another post last summer he said Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is a “narcissist” and also called him “Leo the Leak” on at least two occasions. Mr Forde said he did not recall these tweets.
In response to a tweet about members of the Traveller community seeking stables for horses on social housing developments, Mr Forde wrote: (sic) “Kn****red have the country robbed.”
In another tweet responding to a news article about the Traveller community, he wrote: “Plenty of interaction with them stealing, intimidating illegal parking etc.”
A spokesperson for Mr Ryan said: “The Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has announced that he will not be proceeding with the appointment of Mr Aaron Forde as chair of Shannon Group. In a phone conversation this evening Mr Ryan indicated that Mr Forde’s use of social media was below the standard expected of the chair of a state board.”
Mr Forde was to be appointed as chair of the Shannon Group board for a period of five-years.
He previously was chief executive of agri business Aurivo. He has board experience as chairman of Ornua from 2013-2019, the Sligo Economic Forum, IBEC, Mid-West Radio and the External Advisory Board of Institute of Technology, Sligo.