Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan has confirmed that he will not proceed with the appointment of Aaron Forde to Chair of Shannon Group. This comes after tweets posted by Forde branding social welfare recipients as “kn***ers” came to light.
The businessman also tweeted that members of the traveller community were involved in “stealing, intimidating and illegal parking”.
Mr Forde was writing in response to a tweet about the legal basis for public service cards. He also wrote, “Do the kn***ers who are collecting multiple SW (social welfare) payments have one”.
In another tweet, Forde also described the Green Party as, “clueless about agriculture, climate and lots of other issues”.
Last Summer, Forde also tweeted, describing Táiniste Leo Varadkar as a “narcissist” and referred to him as “Leo the leak” on two occassions. Mr Forde claimed that he did not recall sending these tweets.
“I am truly sorry”
In a letter written to Eamon Ryan, Aaron Forde reflected on his position and decided to withdraw his appointment as chair of Shannon Group Plc. He also apologised for his tweets regarding the Traveller Community and Social Welfare recipients.
He wrote, “The language used in a particular Tweet was wrong, insensitive and needless. I am truly sorry”. He also apologised to the Traveller Community specifically.
Mr Forde also added, “As those who know me best will attest to, I am a passionate believer in the economic and social advancement of the country and the important contribution we can all make”.
“Appoint a new chair as quickly as possible”
In a phone conversation, Mr Ryan said the following, “This is an important time for Shannon Group which has to chart a way through the crisis caused by the pandemic and plan for recovery”.
He added, “The Department of Transport will work to appoint a new chair as quickly as possible”.
A spokesperson for Mr Ryan also said, “The Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has announced that he will not be proceeding with the appointment of Mr Aaron Forde as chair of Shannon Group.
They also added, “In a phone conversation this evening Mr Ryan indicated that Mr Forde’s use of social media was below the standard expected of the chair of a state board”.
Mr Forde was to be appointed to the position for a period of five years, having previously served as chief executive of agri business Aurivo.
He is also a director of some private companies and An Bord Iascaigh Mhara.
He also had experience working on the board, as chairman of Ornua from 2013 to 2019, the Sligo Economic Forum, IBEC, Midwest Radio and the External Advisory Board of Institue of Technology Sligo.