Plan for diaspora seats on State boards may be shelved

Tue, Apr 10, 2012, 01:00

THE IRISH Technology Leadership Group will meet in the coming weeks to decide whether to abandon its plan to compile a list of international executives who would make themselves available to sit on Irish State boards.

The group’s founder, John Hartnett, said the Government’s lukewarm response to the initiative, named Diaspora 2016, had prompted the board to consider whether it was worth continuing.

About 15 leading business executives from around the world have put themselves forward, saying they would offer their expertise free of charge.

However, last week the Government told Mr Hartnett it would not favour members of Diaspora 2016 when making appointments to State boards.

The plan was also criticised by the chief executive of the Institute of Directors, Maura Quinn. She said positions on State boards should be filled by people with relevant skills and competencies, rather than people who are members of the Diaspora 2016 initiative.

She also suggested that executives living abroad and working long hours would not be able to dedicate enough time to the job or be able to attend board meetings. “Anybody who is a director on a board will tell you that, no matter how sophisticated [the technology], nothing compares to being actually in the room,” Ms Quinn said.

Mr Hartnett said there had been much enthusiasm for the proposal but that the Government’s response meant that the board of the Irish Technology Leadership Group would have to consider ending the initiative. “We will meet within the next two weeks to discuss it and decide how we should progress,” he added.

High-profile and successful entrepreneurs at Goldman Sachs, Walt Disney, Microsoft and the New York Stock Exchange were among those who had offered to join the Diaspora 2016 initiative.