Saturday 16 December 2017

Quango queen and golden circle in Irish boardrooms

Mary Davis' plum jobs only highlight the vast extent of inter-connectedness in the corporate world, writes Maeve Sheehan

MARY Davis' presidential campaign faltered last week with reminders of her Quango Queen status. The controversy had nothing on writing clemency letters for past lovers or directing IRA terror campaigns. But when it comes to summing up the political appointments of the past decade, the explosion of quangos spawned by Fianna Fail governments is up there with their tent at the Galway races. Mary Davis is not a party hack but there is no denying her connections.

Bowing to pressure last week, she published a long list of public and private boards she has graced since 1996. In that time, she earned a cool €390,000. She collected €183,083 of that from three state agencies, evoking memories of the quango explosion. She lent her expertise to 18 public and charitable organisations for free but that got lost in her two bank directorships and the €150,000-plus she earned as a European director of the Special Olympics last year.

A study a couple of years ago by the thinktank, Tasc, found that appointments to state boards were generally random; "ad-hoc and politicised" and with no clear mechanism for ensuring they are "free from undue political or other influence".

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