RSA defends “car lobbyist” chairing its conference, says MC had no input into event content

The Road Safety Authority has said that the MC for its annual conference does not have any input in “either the content or the choice of speakers/panellists for the event”.

The Road Safety Authority was responding after it was criticised after it posted an image to Twitter showing that Conor Faughnan, the chief executive of the Royal Irish Automobile Club, was chairing its annual conference.

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As reported by this website yesterday, two councillors and two campaign groups, as well as members of the public, took issue with Faughnan chairing the event, with some calling him a “car lobbyist” or a “representative of the motoring industry”.

Before taking up the role in the Royal Irish Automobile Club, he was a director and spokesperson for the Automobile Association (AA), and he also regularly appears in the media giving his views on road safety measures, including pouring cold water on the Government’s planned speed limit guidelines and the plan for an online reporting portal for road users with camera footage.

It is widely viewed that Faughnan’s prominent media provide gave the AA strong clout and the AA were the only non-governmental organization involved with drawing up the previous speed limit guidelines.

This afternoon, Kieran Reddy, a spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority said: “Regarding the Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the event, it is important to note that the MC does not ever have any input in either the content or the choice of speakers/panellists for the event. The role of MC for the Annual Conference is unpaid.”

He added: “The purpose of the MC role is to keep the event on schedule as well as to keep the audience engaged with the topics/discussions that are taking place.”

A councillor also raised the issue that some councillors who are members of road safety working groups or committees were not invited to the conference.

On the issue of who is invited to the authority’s conference, he said that all council’s chief executives, director of services for road transport, and road safety officers are invited to attend the RSA events. He said: “There was a line in the invitation issued to these individuals that suggested they extend the invitation to others in the organisation, which would include any members of the Road Safety Working Together Groups locally.”

He added: “If any person would like to be included on the RSA’s stakeholder invitation list for future events, they are very welcome to request to be added by emailing MediaDept@rsa.ie.”

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