Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Restructuring of CIE Board.

Robert Molloy


13 Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications his reason for removing Dermot O'Leary from the Board of CIE; the severance or other special payments that have been offered or agreed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9035/95]

Síle de Valera


17 Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the reason for removing the CIE chairman from office; his views on whether this makes it unattractive for citizens to accept positions on State boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8968/95]

Noel Ahern


37 Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if he will expand on his recent statement that he intends to introduce a much strengthened management team in CIE. [8620/95]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13, 17 and 37 together.

The changes at top management level in CIE must be seen in the context of the Government's overall policy in relation to the semi-State sector. The quality and cost of services provided by the commercial semi-State bodies is a major factor in determining the competitiveness of Irish industry and services and, consequently, the health of our economy.

In that context, the Government accepted proposals made by me for restructuring the top management of CIE in the context of managing policies for necessary change and major new investment in public transport in the coming years.

On 24 April 1995, I announced the appointment of a new full-time executive chairman of CIE.

I requested the former chairman's resignation to facilitate the change in the role of the CIE chairman which the Government had decided as a matter of policy.

Does the Minister really believe that?

He agreed to step aside as chairman to facilitate the Government's wishes.

The question of severance terms does not arise in these circumstances.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation, and that of the Government for the former chairman's co-operation in this matter.

I see no reason the circumstances I outlined should cause anyone to feel concern about acceptance of positions on State boards and I am not aware that any such concern has been expressed.

I have already indicated publicly that the mandate of the new chairman will be to ensure that CIE's customers and the taxpayer obtain the maximum return on new investment in public transport. The achievement of this objective requires a multi-skilled, top quality management team in the CIE Group. I have taken the necessary action to ensure that this need will be met. In particular, I have requested the new executive chairman to strengthen the existing CIE management team by recruiting necessary new skills in the areas of project management, marketing and sales, financial and treasury management and human resources.

More jobs for the boys.

A new chief executive has already been appointed by the CIE board——

By the Minister.

——under the new executive chairman.

The generation and maintenance of a substantial increase in permanent sustainable employment is at the heart of this Government's economic policy. There is a wide range of difficult and complex problems to be tackled right across the commercial semi-State sector and decisive action must be taken in addressing these problems. I fully recognise the vital contribution that sector has made and will continue to make towards facilitating the growth and development of the economy. It is my intention to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken so that we will have a strong, vibrant and competitive commercial semi-State sector which can meet and manage the growing challenge of competition at national and international level.

In the case of CIE, the provision by the Government of very substantial financial resources in terms of Exchequer and European Union funding, which will amount to approximately £1 billion in the next five years, is the clearest possible demonstration of our commitment to a strong transport system.

The length of the reply is ridiculous.

I have no doubt that these investments, coupled with a dynamic commercial and customer-focused approach by the CIE group will bring about significant social, economic and environmental benefits.

Well played, Minister.

Deputies know that the Chair has no control over the duration of the Minister's reply.

If the Minister chooses to fill the time with long irrelevant replies, that is an abuse of the procedures of the House.

In his discussions with Mr. O'Leary, did the Minister make any criticisms of decisions he had made as chairman, or allege any impropriety on Mr. O'Leary's part? Did he make any allegations to the outgoing chairman regarding the making of decisions where there may have been a vested interest? It is surprising, in view of time constraints, that the Minister did not answer the question put to him rather than giving a long answer about other matters, which may be interesting but is not relevant to the question. A precedent is being established in the action the Government has taken and if the reasons are as the Minister says, no State chairman can feel secure in his position and that will affect their confidence in undertaking the tasks thrust upon them by the State in asking them to act as chairman in the first place.

I have given a detailed and elaborate reply because I took three questions together.

What the Minister did not tell us is that the person who got the job of chief executive did not apply for it. The Minister did not tell us the personal role he played in the appointment of the chairman.

A certain latitude has been allowed. Let us hear the Minister's reply to Deputy Molloy's question.

The chief executive applied a month after the others. The Minister should answer the question.

In response to the question put to me by Deputy Molloy, the position relating to the previous chairman of the CIE group is clear and straightforward. Following the Government's approval of my proposals for change in the top management structure of CIE, I asked the then chairman to meet me in my office on 25 April 1995. I explained to him that in the context of managing policies for necessary change in public transport the Government had agreed to my proposals to restructure top management in CIE, including the appointment of a new full-time executive chairman of the group. I then asked the chairman to facilitate the Government's wishes by resigning from his existing part-time post of chairman of CIE Group and the three subsidiary companies, Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann. I explained that the change in the chairman's role from part-time to a new full-time executive chairman was being made in the context of the reorganisation of CIE. I emphasised that the Government's decision did not reflect in any way on the chairman's fitness for office or conduct within office.

May I ask a supplementary question?

I may not call the Deputy.