Mandy Johnston, a former government press secretary and adviser to the taoiseach, has been appointed chief executive of the representative organisation for the Irish oil and gas exploration sector.
Ms Johnston, who advised Bertie Ahern when he was taoiseach, will lead the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association (IOOA) at a time of both unprecedented exploration interest in Irish waters, but also heightened opposition to offshore drilling activity.
“We will make a valuable contribution to the national dialogue and play an important role in the development of the Irish offshore industry and Ireland’s sustainable energy future,” said Ms Johnston.
The IOOA last week reiterated its dissatisfaction with an opposition party bill — led by People Before Profit — targeting a ban on offshore drilling in Irish waters which has progressed to committee stage in the Oireachtas.
The organisation warned the proposed legislation could make Ireland’s energy supply even more vulnerable, tie the country into a future of oil and gas importation, and see the exchequer lose out on a significant revenue stream.
It said the exploration sector has the potential to create 1,500 jobs per annum and deliver up to €11bn to the exchequer from a single commercial discovery.
People Before Profit’s Climate Emergency Bill will go before the select committee on communications, climate action, and environment, where it has significant TD support, on June 11.