Public Appointments Service drops the ball in the Aaron Forde fiasco

Cantillon: Mystery that Forde’s social media posts were not spotted during recruitment process

Aaron Forde’s appointment was cancelled after it emerged he had previously tweeted disparaging comments about members of the Government and had  used ethnic slurs about members of the Traveller community. Photograph: Keith Arkins

Aaron Forde’s appointment was cancelled after it emerged he had previously tweeted disparaging comments about members of the Government and had used ethnic slurs about members of the Traveller community. Photograph: Keith Arkins

 

One of the daftest aspects of Tuesday’s cancellation of the appointment of former Ornua chairman Aaron Forde as the chair of Shannon Group is that such a high-profile State appointment could go through a rigorous scrutiny process without someone checking his social media history.

Forde, a heavyweight executive who also ran Aurivo for 16 years, was appointed as Shannon chairman by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan on Tuesday afternoon. By that evening, his appointment had been cancelled after it emerged he had previously tweeted disparaging comments about members of the Government and had also used ethnic slurs about members of the Traveller community.

Leaving aside for a moment the fact that it is not acceptable in any context to use such slurs, it is a complete mystery why someone as experienced as Forde would not think to scrub his social media history clean before applying for a high profile State post. He will regret this for the rest of his career.

But it is an even bigger mystery that something so blatantly disqualifying for a State role was not spotted during the recruitment process. It is beyond sloppy.

Ryan, who has a habit of putting his foot in things, will rightly cop all the political flak. He has an army of advisers – reportedly nine of them in various capacities – who should surely have spotted this landmine between them. Yet the minister might also be forgiven if he finds himself wondering what the Public Appointments Service (PAS) was playing at throughout this disaster.

PAS is supposed to be a filter, a vetting service, for public roles. Where was the vetting in this case? Forde was one of three candidates put forward by PAS for a final choice to be made by the minister and his department, the Dáil was told on Wednesday.

If the vetting service isn’t even doing the most cursory of personal background checks on candidates that it is puts in front of Government, then what is the point of PAS at all?

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.