Former head of National Library to chair troubled CIE

Fiona Ross will take up three-year post at State-owned public transport group

 Fiona Ross She will formally take up the three-year post after appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Fiona Ross She will formally take up the three-year post after appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Former National Library of Ireland director Fiona Ross is set to become chairwoman of troubled State-owned public transport group CIÉ.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross confirmed on Tuesday the cabinet has approved Ms Ross’s appointment to the CIÉ chair.

She will formally take up the three-year post after appearing before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Ms Ross, who is not related to the Minister, will fill a role left vacant for several months following the departure of previous chair Vivienne Jupp.

She has a masters in governance and public policy from Queen’s University Belfast and has lectured in University College Dublin and the Irish Management Institute.

Ms Ross has been a director of the National Transport Authority, which oversees all areas of public transport from trains to taxis, since 2015 and sits on its audit committee.

Developing

She currently chairs Mental Health Ireland, a national voluntary organisation that works with State bodies such as the Health Services Executive.

Before that, from 2010 to 2014, Ms Ross was a director of the National Library of Ireland, where she worked on developing that institution’s digital services.

Earlier in her career, she was a member of the Irish Manuscripts Commission, a public body set up to preserve important historic documents and other materials.

In addition, she was a member of the Dublin Creative Alliance and the Fáilte Ireland Disapora Review Group.

She spent 25 years working on financial services and communications in Ireland, the UK, US and Asia.

During that time, she worked with Goodbody Stockbrokers, Bank of Ireland, public relations group Hill & Knowlton and the Industrial Bank of Japan. She is also founding director of the emigration museum EPIC Ireland.

She takes over the CIÉ chair as its bus and rail companies struggle to deal with competition and industrial unrest.

It emerged last month that Irish Rail curtailed engineering works to fund a 7.5 per cent pay rise agreed following strikes last year that cost the company €12 million.

Restructuring programme

Bus Éireann has just completed a restructuring programme that included new rosters and a composite pay ban designed to cut a €15 million a year bill for overtime and premium payments.

The company endured a damaging strike last year but hopes to return to profit in 2018. Bus Éireann faces increasing competition on key routes, including its expressway network.

Meanwhile, the National Transport Authority has been offering routes now run by Dublin Bus out to tender to private companies.

British player, Go Ahead, recently signed a contract to operate 24 such routes, giving it about 10 per cent of the State company’s overall network.

Trade unions plan to submit a pay claim to Dublin Bus management later this year.

All three companies received a total of €212 million from the State in 2016 under public service deals to run “socially desirable but economically unviable routes” according to the CIÉ annual report for that year.