Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Sean Fleming has said the new procedures detailed by Minister Brendan Howlin on how appointments will be made to the boards of commercial semi-State companies is a complete capitulation to the sector. The Minister’s procedures will apply to the NewERA group of companies: Irish Water, ESB, Ervia (formerly Bord Gáis Éireann), Bord na Móna, EirGrid and Coillte.
Deputy Fleming commented: “Minister Brendan Howlin has fundamentally failed to bring about any transparency or independence to the appointment process for directors to key State boards. In fact the Minister has stacked the selection panel for candidates with three insiders and only one outsider to be nominated by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).”
Deputy Fleming has reviewed the protocols published on http://hr.per.gov.ie/state-boards/ which state at 12.2 that “The Selection Panel will usually comprise four nominees, made up as follows: two representatives from NewERA, one of whom will act as Chairperson of the Panel, the Chairperson of the relevant designated body and an independent expert nominated by PAS.”
Deputy Fleming added: “Fianna Fáil believes the rules for appointments to State Boards are inadequate because they are merely guidelines and have no statutory status. However the regime the Minister has concocted for the commercial semi-State companies really stretches reality. Minister Howlin wants a four-person selection panel, made up of three people from within the NewERA umbrella group, to deal with board appointments for all of the NewERA companies.
“This is a disgraceful capitulation by Brendan Howlin to the powerful semi-State sector and highlights his commitment to independence and transparency as pure tokenism. The Minister has also undermined the Public Appointment Service with his proposals, effectively reducing the role of the PAS in the process to a merely administrative one.
“I am genuinely surprised by the cosy nature of the system the Minister has come up with. Far from bringing more openness to the process of appointments to the Boards of Irish Water, ESB, Ervia, Bord na Móna, EirGrid and Coillte Minister Howlin has sought to centralise power in a small group of people within the NewERA group.
“We’re talking about key roles here on the boards of six of the most powerful companies in the State and the Minister has been defeated in his plans to reform the process of appointing directors to these State boards.”