Gaybo lauds Liz as she steps into road safety role
FORMER Road Safety Authority (RSA) chairman Gay Byrne has praised the woman chosen to succeed him.
Former PDs junior minister Liz O'Donnell will take over from the veteran broadcaster.
Mr Byrne said yesterday just hours before she was appointed that he supported the decision to give her the job.
"I think she will be a very, very capable chairman if she is the choice. She is a very capable person indeed," he said.
"I think if she is the choice, she is a very good choice."
Ms O'Donnell (58) was yesterday recommended as the chairperson of the RSA by the Government.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe brought the nomination to the Cabinet yesterday morning.
He later confirmed the appointment and paid tribute to Mr Byrne, who he said had "brought great enthusiasm to the role".
The former Late Late Show host stood down during the summer on reaching his 80th birthday.
Ms O'Donnell was a Progressive Democrats TD from 1992 until 2007, when she lost her seat in Dublin South in the party's meltdown.
She served as a junior minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1997 to 2002.
And she was a member of the government team that ratified the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. She was also in charge of overseas development aid.
Since leaving politics, Ms O'Donnell has worked as a public affairs consultant, lecturer and broadcaster.
Born in Dublin, she was educated at the Salesian Convent in Limerick, studied at Trinity College Law School and had a career as a lawyer.
She was approached by Mary Harney to run for the Progressive Democrats.
Ms O'Donnell was first elected to Dublin City Council in 1991 for the Rathmines Ward. She had earlier been vice-chair of the Women's Political Association and had worked on Mary Robinson's presidential campaign. She lives on the southside of Dublin and has two adult children.
After eight years as chairman of the RSA, Mr Byrne was asked to remain in his position by the Government for another two years, but declined.
He repeatedly criticised the impact that the reduction in resources for the Garda Traffic Corps had on road safety.
Apart from the new chairperson, Mr Donohoe is also due to appoint three new board members to the RSA.
The road safety drive over the past decade has seen deaths drop significantly, but they are on course to increase this year.