Transport Minister Shane Ross brands RSA as "amateurish" over typos in annual report

In an exchange with chairperson Liz O'Donnell, Minister Ross described its annual report as a "sloppy piece of work"

Details of a heated exchanged between Transport Minister Shane Ross and the chairperson of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) were made public over the weekend.

The Sunday Independent reported on growing animosity between the two public representatives relating to the appointment of board members to the RSA, their attendance at meetings and to typographical and other errors contained in a draft of the RSA annual report.

In an email to - and letter exchange with - Ms O'Donnell, the Transport Minister accuses the RSA of being "amateurish and inexplicably cavalier" in its approach to detail; describes its annual report as a "sloppy piece of work" with "embarrassing" misprints and "grammatical howlers"; accuses board members of having "sporadic interest" in board attendance; and says he is not convinced that the re-appointments of certain board members "are in the interests of road safety or assist in the mission of the authority".

According to the Sunday Independent, Ms O'Donell responded, calling the tone of his letter "unnecessarily confrontational" and taking exception to his suggestion that the RSA is "amateurish and inexplicably cavalier", describes certain of his comments as "ill-judged and offensive".

Last September, Mr Ross decided to reduce the RSA board membership by two to six members, which ensured a functioning board. In a letter dated the same month and seen by the Sunday Independent, Ms O'Donnell appealed to the Transport Minister to reconsider this decision, noting that the country was "experiencing a significant increase in road deaths" compared with 2015.

There were 187 road deaths last year - a 15% increase on 2015 when 162 people were killed on the country's roads.

Reaction

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Fianna Fáil spokesperson for Transport Robert Troy said the focus should be on fatalities and not the dispute.

"We need to bring road safety back as a priority on the agenda", he said. "I think it would be much better if the communication was focusing on how we could improve our legislation to help mitigate towards the risk of road fatalities."

Mr Troy went on to say that highlighting typos within reports was not a part of the Minister's job criteria, and that his highlighting of typos within the RSA's report was "pedantic".