Officials in the Road Safety Authority, responding to a Freedom of Information request, said that there are no records of how Conor Faughnan, the chief executive of the Royal Irish Automobile Club, was chosen to chair the RSA annual conference.
“I think it’s completely unacceptable that this decision was made without any records of who proposed it, what the rationale was, and whose decision it was to appoint him as master of ceremonies,” said Felijin Jose, chair of the Dublin Commuter Coalition, a campaign group which seeks improved provision for sustainable transport.
“For transparency, we need to find out why this decision was made and why there couldn’t be an alternative. The idea that there was no alternative available because of the late nature of the decision is just false — the RSA have 100 people on staff who could have done the job instead of a lobbyist from the motor industry,” he said.
Jose, who’s also a Green Party election candidate, said he’d be appealing the decision to find out if there were any minutes of the meeting where the decision was made or if there was any payment made or any agreement made for Faughnan MCing the event.
In response to his FOI request, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said: “I am sorry to inform you that we cannot locate the records and that I must therefore refuse your request… By way of explanation, a meeting was held and it was discussed and agreed that Conor Faughnan was suitable as the conference chair at the RSA annual conference, following a late confirmation that an alternative individual was unavailable.”
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The refusal was under the section of the FOI Acts where the records concerned do not exist or cannot be found after all reasonable steps to ascertain its whereabouts have been taken.
When the RSA’s annual conference was held, two councillors and two campaign groups complained about Faughnan chairing the event. Commenting at the time in response, 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.”
The RSA was again contacted this afternoon for comment today but the authority did not response before the publication of this article.