Coalition divides up blood board positions
Fine Gael and Labour have divided up between them appointments on a key State board while ignoring applications made by the public, new documents reveal.
Six of the seats on the board of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service are being filled by candidates chosen by Fine Gael, while the remaining three vacancies are in Labour’s gift, documents obtained under freedom of information show.
The nine vacancies were publicly advertised last April. Despite the fact that 28 applications were received, none of these people was appointed.
Six months after the positions became vacant last June, five remain unfilled, despite repeated warnings from the chief executive of the service, its former and present chairpersons and Department of Health officials about the dangers of not appointing people with key skills.
The documents highlight the shortcomings of new Government rules for appointments to public bodies, which allow interested people to express their interest in vacant posts. However, a Minister is not required to stick to the list of applicants when choosing candidates to fill vacancies.
In the current instance, details of those who applied were redacted from the files so it is not possible to assess the calibre of applications. However, the list includes former chairwoman Katharine Bulbulia and a number of outgoing board members.
Minister for Health James Reilly has appointed three well-qualified people as new members of the board.
These include Prof Anthony Staines of the school of nursing in DCU, who has a Fine Gael background; Dr Conor McGrane, a GP in Balbriggan in the Minister’s Dublin North constituency; and Brian O’Mahony of the Irish Haemophilia Society. In addition, international blood expert from Milan, Dr Paolo Rebulla, was reappointed .
Another Government rule requires people selected to chair boards to appear before a relevant Oireachtas committee before their appointment is confirmed.
However, this has happened in only a minority of cases. Prof Staines, for example, was appointed last June and has yet to be invited before the health committee.
The documents show that Dr Reilly’s officials were advised that “Minister will take the advice of his Lab colleagues on three of the appointments”.
Another note indicates that the original nine vacancies are to be filled “6FG” and “3Lab”.
Under this division of spoils, Dr Reilly still has two appointments to make while the other three are in the gift of his Labour Ministers of State.
Board members of the service are paid €7,695 a year plus travel and subsistence, while the chairperson gets €11,970.