Intel's Barrett snub reveals Irish cronyism

Craig Barrett, the former Intel boss, is causing a few problems for the Irish government.

Barrett is offering to serve pro-bono on an Irish State board.

The government has tried to ignore Barrett’s offer and is hoping he will go away, but according to the Irish press it is getting jolly difficult.

The government set up something called Volunteer 2016 which was supposed to be a network for US-based Irish technology types. It was backed by two governments, who probably hoped that it would give them a few photo opportunities and die away without doing anything.

Barrett’s offer was pretty significant, as the Irish Times pointed out, there were shedloads of companies who wanted his expertise – so why didn’t the government rush to accept it?

The problem is the boards are not supposed to be populated by people who know what they are talking about. They are supposed to be a way for politicians to reward the party faithful and make sure party interests are protected.

It has been a running joke that the Irish partners have all said they would end appointments as a form of patronage. Labour said that it would give positions based on a “demonstrable capacity to do the job”. Fine Gael promised to tackle cronyism, cull some agencies, and advertise paid directorships.

Instead, both loaded state boards and judiciary with people they owed favours.

It looks like they are terrified that Barrett would appear at a state board and start doing things.