The 36 vacancies left on State boards under the control of Transport Minister Shane Ross is the same number left vacant by his predecessor, Paschal Donohoe, when he left office.
Mr Ross was criticised last week because he had not filled the vacancies, on boards such as the Road Safety Authority, Irish Rail, and Fáilte Ireland.
However, the Department of Transport confirmed that Mr Donohoe had left the same number of vacancies on his departure from office.
On February 23, three days before the general election, there were 36 vacancies, as there were on November 23.
In the wake of the row between Mr Ross and Taoiseach Enda Kenny over the appointments process, Mr Donohoe, now Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, announced a full review of State board appointments.
“I am undertaking a review of the process put in place by the previous government and will consult all of my colleagues in government about whether it can be improved or changed,” he said. “But it is up to each minister to make decisions in respect of appointments.”
Addressing the vacancies left by him, Mr Donohoe told the Dail: “In respect of my tenure as minister for transport, tourism and sport, while I cannot remember the exact number of vacancies that may exist at any point, the answer is that, of course, there were vacancies when I was minister, because you have responsibility for a group of boards and people may resign or go on to do different work.
“This can mean that, despite your best efforts, there are vacancies that then take time to fill.”
Despite announcing the review, Mr Donohoe said he has confidence in the Public Appointments Service (PAS), which Mr Ross criticised in recent days.
“Do I have confidence in the Public Appointments Service and its work? The answer is ‘yes’. It has an enhanced role and does more work in this area than was the case in recent years,” said Mr Donohoe.
“I believe this has led to the availability of better candidates than has been the case for many years, because more people are aware of the process.”
In his criticisms of the PAS, Mr Ross said the process is performed without interview and he has had 34-plus names sent to him to fill two positions.
Mr Ross is seeking to reduce ministerial input into appointments to state boards and the judiciary.
Fianna Fail public expenditure spokesman, Dara Calleary, questioned if it was appropriate for a minister to take more than six months to appoint people to boards.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved