A Castlebar man who found himself on the front page of a national daily newspaper over his appointment to the board of State body SOLAS has responded to the story this week.
Darragh Loftus said in a statement that he applied to be appointed to the board out of a “spirit of public service” and that the article paid particular interest to jobs he worked in while putting himself through college in order to paint him as unqualified for the position.
In his statement Loftus said: “I applied for the voluntary, unpaid position on the board of SOLAS in a spirit of public service. I wanted to bring the benefits of my education, and my insights as a recent graduate, to decisions being made that affect many of a similar age and profile as my own. I have both a master’s degree and undergraduate degree in strategic business management and currently work for an international software company in Cork. The coverage of my appointment in the Daily Mail serves only to show why young, capable, people would be reluctant to apply through the Public Appointments Service.”
He continued: “The article seeks to cast me as an unqualified. The article also lays unwarranted emphasis on jobs I had while in college to support myself. I attend board meetings 10 times a year in Dublin and use half my annual leave in order to do so. I have always treated this voluntary position with the utmost professionalism and regard my contributions as positive.
“There is no financial benefit to being a voluntary board member of SOLAS. I am entitled to strict expenses to travel from Cork to Dublin for board meetings.”
Mr Loftus, who seconded the Taoiseach’s nomination as a candidate for the 2011 General Election, continued: “I am a member of the Fine Gael and Young Fine Gael party and feel young people in Ireland owe some duty of public service.
“My age group is underrepresented on all boards across Ireland and I don’t feel this is acceptable. Rather than representing a political stroke, my membership of the board of SOLAS represents a break from the norm.
“We need to hear the voice of young people and especially recent graduates entering the work place. I will continue to serve on the board of SOLAS to the best of my ability and would encourage any young person who feels they have a valuable contribution to make to State agencies to apply through the Public Appointments Service.”
He concluded by saying he would be making no further comment on the story.