Departing land agency chairman raises concerns over time required for job

John Moran says LDA’s mission appears to have been curtailed, and its €2.5bn allocation for delivering housing is ‘insufficient’

John Moran:  he said there were “multiple reasons” why he was not putting his name forward for the permanent chairperson job. File photograph: Alan Betson

John Moran: he said there were “multiple reasons” why he was not putting his name forward for the permanent chairperson job. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

The departing interim chairman of the Land Development Agency (LDA) has raised concern at the time commitment that will be required of his successor, suggesting working four to six days per month will not be enough to do the job well.

John Moran, the former secretary general of the Department of Finance, also claimed that the LDA’s mission appears to have been curtailed, and that its current €2.5 billion allocation for delivering housing was “insufficient”.

He is not seeking the permanent job of chairperson of the agency, which is tasked with boosting the supply of housing using State-owned land.

The job comes with pay of €31,500 per annum and the appointment booklet suggests the time requirement will be around four to six days per month.

It says that this includes attendance at board meetings and sub-committees of the board, the company’s AGM and site visits to LDA locations, and that a “more extensive time commitment may be necessary in the initial induction period”.

Among the responsibilities of the chairperson will be to play a “central role in the direction, leadership and corporate governance of the LDA”.

Mr Moran told The Irish Times: “The LDA was set up to be as important an intervention in housing as the ESB was in the electrification of the country. I am proud that starting from zero we are well on that road even without any legislation but there is still a long way to go.”

He said it “could and should make a real difference given the scale of the housing crisis and need for greater regional-balanced development”.

Commitment

However, Mr Moran raised concern about the time commitment being advertised for the job.

“I have seen in practice that to carry out the role of chair of this multi-billion agency safely, the time required was and continues to be very considerable. In my opinion, to be done well going forward, it is likely to require more than the time commitment proposed in the new advertisement.”

He added: “Even today a lot more open debate is needed before settling the policies and framework under which the agency will operate. For example, in recent months the mission also appears to have been curtailed.”

He said: “Against the scale of the housing crisis the €2.5 billion currently allocated to the LDA is insufficient to solve the problem.”

Mr Moran added: “To resolve these will require considerable time and open conversations between the board, the Minister and his department.”

He said: “At the end of the day, with other projects I am pursuing and related demands on my time, it would have been imprudent and unfair to pretend to be able to continue to do that under all the circumstances.”

The Limerick Leader newspaper reported that Mr Moran is joining the board of financial technology company Revolut in Ireland – it is hoping to be licensed as an investment firm here – and it is a key reason why Mr Moran is leaving the LDA.

Mr Moran told The Irish Times there were “multiple reasons” he was not putting his name forward for the permanent chairperson job, and the role on the Revolut board was an example he gave to explain there were “challenging, other opportunities in my professional life”.

He said there would not have been a conflict between the two roles had he pursued the chairman job at the LDA.

Advertised

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien announced in recent days that the role of LDA chairperson was being advertised, and encouraged “suitable qualified candidates” to apply.

He said he had been notified by Mr Moran that he does not intend to seek the job but that he would stay in the interim role until May 1st.

Mr O’Brien thanked Mr Moran for his work on behalf of the LDA since 2019 and said he played a “key role in setting the strategic direction” of the agency.

The Department of Housing statement said that the LDA Bill to establish the agency was progressing through the Oireachtas and preparations were being made to recruit a board.

It said it was usual practice to advertise the chairperson position first, followed by the ordinary board member positions.