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Saturday 22 September 2018

Dan White: So what was Varadkar doing in airport pay fiasco?

In the end, after much arm-twisting, DAA chief Declan Collier finally did the decent thing and agreed to waive his "performance" bonus of €106,000 for 2010.

Unfortunately, by the time Collier woke up to the reality of the situation, enormous damage had been done both to the company and its relationship with its shareholder, the Government. The whole affair raises more questions than it answers. When did Transport Minister Leo Varadkar first become aware that the DAA board was planning to cock a snook at the Government and pay Collier his bonus?

Was this a case of open defiance by the company's board, or did the minister only wake up to the implications of what was happening very late in the day?

If the DAA board did attempt to defy the minister after being clearly warned that any move to pay Collier a bonus would represent a breach of Government policy, then Varadkar's threat not to reappoint those members of the DAA's board whose terms of office expire later this year was a hopelessly inadequate reaction to the situation. After all, most of the outgoing directors won't be reappointed anyway, as the Government takes the opportunity to replace them with its own cronies. Instead Mr Varadkar should have threatened to fire all of the board, and worry about the legal consequences later.

However, if it transpires Mr Varadkar had been made aware of the facts by the DAA, but only realised the likely implications later on, then one has to ask whether the minister was fully on top of his brief. If the DAA board had told the minister then, not to put too fine a point on it, was Mr Varadkar asleep at the switch?

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