By Michelle Crawley
FORMER Westmeath County Councillor with the Labour party, Denis Leonard, Kinnegad, who failed to retain his political seat in the Mullingar-Coole local area elections, has been appointed to the board of Bord na Móna.
The appointment was made last week by Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, and Denis says that he is delighted to join the 12-member board after submitting an expression of interest in early June out of a desire to enhance his own personal development in an area of interest to him.
Denis, who will not be paid fees for sitting on the board as he is a public sector worker, working as the director of Dunboyne College of Further Education, explained to Topic this week that his role on the board will involve corporate governance of the Bord na Móna group.
“I will attend monthly board meetings where we will discuss corporate governance based on best practice, long term strategies, budget issues and regulations,” he said.
However, the former Westmeath political representative’s appointment was met with cynicism by other political parties who claim that Minister Rabbitte’s choice of a fellow Labour Party member is an example of cronyism. Speaking on the matter, Denis says that the decision was warranted on the basis that he has over thirty years’ experience under his belt.
“I have been an environmentalist for the past thirty years and have vast experience sitting on boards such as the board of Greenpeace Ireland, the board of Voice, and can bring managerial and administrative experience to the table. This is my area of expertise,” he said.
“I have a lifetime involvement with environmentalism. I have thirty years’ experience and only 5 years’ political experience. Hand on heart, I can say that I feel that I am the best person for the position. I know that I am the best fit,” he continued.
Denis feels it is important that the midlands is represented given its strong connection with Bord na Móna and revealed that he has already been briefed by board chairman John Horgan and Bord na Móna CEO Gabriel D’Arcy, and attended a monthly meeting of the semi-state board last Thursday, 26 June, where he made a number of contributions.