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'Same old problem': Minister clarifies comments on filling Irish-speaking CEO job

Seán Kyne had told RTÉ that there was difficulties filling a CEO role because of a lack of Irish with the Public Appointments Service – he later had to clarify his remarks.

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Updated 15 May, 11.08am 

MINISTER OF STATE Seán Kyne had to clarify remarks made to RTÉ after he claimed the Public Appointments Service (PAS) failed to fill the vacant role of CEO at Údarás na Gaeltachta as its lack of Irish makes it unable to handle the recruitment process.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Raidió na Gaeltachta, Kyne said that an external organisation must now be paid to carry out the work of filling the role.

However, in a statement issued hours later, the junior minister said the position was not filled because the recruitment process at Údarás na Gaeltachta fell outside the statutory remit of the PAS.

Údarás na Gaeltachta is a semi-State company responsible for the economic, social and cultural development of the Gaeltacht. Its current CEO, Steve Ó Cúláin, is due to retire at the end of May.

The process to replace him has not yet begun. The Public Appointments Service is the agency primarily tasked with filling civil service and semi-State roles.

Kyne originally told RTÉ: ”The Údarás was in touch with the Public Appointments Service to avail of their services, but they were unable to fulfil that request.

It’s the same old problem… they are unable to put a process in place in Irish [to appoint someone], they have no expertise in Irish.

The Minister added that a contract organisation has been enlisted to help recruit the new chief executive, with the position set to be advertised at the start of June.

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As a result of this delay, Ó Cúláin has agreed to postpone his retirement until October at the latest.

However, in the later statement, Kyne’s department sought to clarify his remarks, indicating that the PAS didn’t take on the task because it wasn’t within its remit – rather than it being due to a lack of Irish.

The statement said: “The Minister of State is now aware that it was as a result of capacity issues in general and the fact that the filling of this vacancy falls outside the statutory remit of PAS, rather than Irish language competence that the Public Appointments Service was not in a position to administer the competition for the recruitment of a Chief Executive Officer for Údarás na Gaeltachta.”

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Sean Murray

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