Ceisteanna — Questions - Appointments to State Boards.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 639 No. 2

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  1.  Deputy Enda Kenny  Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny   asked the Taoiseach  Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern   the appointments made by him since June 2002 to the State Boards, or other agencies under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16808/07]

  2.  Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin   asked the Taoiseach  Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern   the appointments made by him to State boards since June 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18784/07]

  3.  Deputy Eamon Gilmore  Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore   asked the Taoiseach  Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern   if he will list the persons appointed to State boards or agencies operating under the aegis of his Department since 1 January 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20154/07]

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I propose to take Question Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, together.

The information sought by the Deputies concerning appointments made by me to State boards and agencies under the aegis of my Department since June 2002 is set out in the following schedule.

The relevant bodies are the National Statistics Board, the Law Reform Commission, the National Centre for Partnership and Performance, the National Economic and Social Council and the National Economic and Social Forum.

The schedule also lists appointments made in respect of the Second Information Society Commission, the term of office of which ended on 31 December 2004.

Boards and Agencies under the aegis of the Department of the Taoiseach

Board
1 The National Statistics Board
2 The Law Reform Commission
3 The National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP)
4 The National Economic and Social Council (NESC)
5 The National Economic and Social Forum (NESF)

State Board / Agency: National Statistics Board

National Statistics Board (NSB)

Name Occupation / Organisation Date of Appointment
Mr. Frank Cunneen Health & Safety Authority (IBEC) February 2004
February 2006
Mr. Ciaran Dolan ICMSA February 2004
February 2006
Ms. Paula Carey ICTU February 2004
Ms. Mary Doyle Department of the Taoiseach February 2004
February 2006
July 2007
Prof. Brendan Walsh University College Dublin February 2004
February 2006
July 2007
Dr. Patricia O’Hara Western Development Commission February 2004
February 2006
July 2007
Mr. Derek Moran Department of Finance July 2003
February 2004
February 2006
Mr. Paul Sweeney ICTU October 2006
July 2007
Mr. Danny McCoy IBEC July 2007
Mr. Michael J. McGrath Department of Finance July 2007
Mr. Con Lucey IFA July 2007

State Board / Agency: Law Reform Commission

List of appointments to the Law Reform Commission since 2002

Name Occupation Date of Appointment
President Mrs Justice Catherine McGuinness Judge of the Supreme Court 22 February 2005
Commissioner (Full-time) Patricia T. Rickard-Clarke, Solicitor 15 September 1997 Reappointed 30 September 2004
Reappointed 1 September 2007
Commissioner (Part-time) Dr. Hilary A Delaney, B.L. Senior Lecture in Law, TCD 15 April 1997. Reappointed 15 April, 2002
Resigned May 2005
Commissioner (Part-time) Professor Finbarr McAuley, B.C.L., LLB, Mphil, LLD, Jean Monnet Professor of European Criminal Justice, UCD 1 September 1999. Reappointed 1 September 2004
Reappointed 1 September 2007
Commissioner (Part-time) Marian Shanley Solicitor 13 November 2001
Reappointed 12 November 2004
Reappointed 1 September 2007
Senior Counsel (Part-time) Donal O’Donnell Senior Counsel 28 June 2005 (replaced Dr. Hilary A. Delaney, BL)
Reappointed 1 September 2007

State Board / Agency: National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP)

Name Occupation / Organisation Date ofAppointment
Executive Chairperson Mr. Peter Cassells October 2001-April 2004 reappointed: 7 November 2005
Government Departments Mr. Philip Kelly, Asst. Secretary Deputy Chairperson Dept. of the Taoiseach October 2001 reappointed: 24 January 2006
Mr. Ciaran Connolly, Asst Secretary Dept. of Finance October 2001 reappointed: 24 January 2006
Mr. John Walsh, Asst. Secretary Dept. of Enterprise, Trade& Employment June 2002 — (replaced Mr. Maurice Cashell)
Reappointed: 24 January 2006
Employers Mr. Brendan McGinty Director, Human/Industrial Resources, IBEC October 2001 Reappointed: 24 January 2006
Mr. Liam Doherty Director, Human Resource Services, IBEC October 2001 Reappointed: 24 January 2006
Mr. Gavin Marie IBEC replaced Mr. Liam Doherty in April 2007
Mr. Eddie Keenan CIF 24 January 2006
Ms. Irene Canavan Arnotts 24 January 2006
Mr. Morgan Nolan Industrial Relations,CIF Jan 2004 — (replaced Terry McEvoy)
Trade Unions Mr. Fergus Whelan Industrial Officer, ICTU October 2003 — replaced Mr. Tom Wall
Reappointed: 24 January 2006
Mr. Jerry Shanahan AMICUS 24 January 2006
Ms. Catherine Byrne INTO 24 January 2006
Mr. Des Geraghty Member of Executive Council, ICTU September 2004 — (replaced Mr John Tierney, MSF)
Mr. Gerry McCormack SIPTU 24 January 2006
Ms Angela Kirk IMPACT September 2004 — (replaced Ms Marie Levis)
Mr. Sean Heading, Education & Training Services Trust has been nominated by ICTU as an alternate
Independent Members Prof. Joyce O’Connor National College of Ireland 24 January 2006
Ms. Dorothy Butler Scally Human Resources Consultant 24 January 2006
Dr. Catherine Kavanagh UCC 24 January 2006

State Board / Agency: National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

Name Occupation / Organisation Dates of Membership
Chairperson Mr. Dermot McCarthy Secretary General, Dept. of the Taoiseach September 2003
June 2007
Deputy Chair Ms. Mary Doyle Assistant Secretary, Dept. of the Taoiseach September 2003
June 2007
Trade Union Pillar
Mr. David Begg General Secretary, ICTU September 2003
June 2007
Mr. Peter McLoone General Secretary, IMPACT September 2003
June 2007
Mr. Manus O’Riordan Economist, SIPTU September 2003
June 2007
Ms. Joan Carmichael Assistant General Secretary, ICTU September 2003
Ms. Sally Anne Kinahan (replaced Joan Carmichael) Assistant General Secretary, ICTU January 2004
June 2007
Mr. Jack O’Connor Vice President, SIPTU September 2003
June 2007
Business and Employer or Organisation Pillar
Mr. Turlough O’Sullivan Director General, IBEC June 2007
Ms. Aileen O’Donoghue Director, Financial Services Ireland September 2003
June 2007
Mr. Brian Geoghegan Director, IBEC September 2003
Mr. Danny McCoy(replaced Brian Geoghegan) Director of Policy, IBEC October 2005
June 2007
Mr. John Dunne Chief Executive,Chambers of Commerce Ireland September 2003
June 2007
Mr. Liam Kelleher Director General, Construction Industry Federation September 2003
June 2007
Agricultural and Farming Organisation Pillar
Mr. Seamus O’Donoghue Secretary, ICOS September 2003
June 2007
Mr. Ciaran Dolan General Secretary, ICMSA September 2003
June 2007
Mr. Michael Berkery General Secretary, IFA September 2003
June 2007
Mr. Eddie Punch General Secretary, ICSA June 2007
Mr. Damien McDonald Chief Executive, Macra na Féirme September 2003
Mr. Colm Markey National President, Macra na Féirme June 2007
Community and Voluntary Pillar
Fr. Sean Healy Head of Justice Office, CORI September 2003
June 2007
Mr. Donall Geoghegan Programme Manager, National Youth Council September 2002
September 2003
Mr. John Dolan Chief Executive, Disability Federation of Ireland September 2003
June 2007
Ms. Deirdre Garvey Chief Executive, the Wheel September 2003
John Mark McCafferty Policy Officer, Saint Vincent de Paul September 2003
Mr. Séamus Boland Chief Executive,Irish Rural Link June 2007
Ms. Brid O’Brien Senior Policy Officer, Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed June 2007
Ms. Camille Loftus Community Platform June 2007
Government Department Nominees
Secretary General Dept. of Finance September 2003
June 2007
Secretary General Dept. of Enterprise, Trade and Employment September 2003
June 2007
Secretary General Dept. of Social and Family Affairs September 2003
June 2007
Secretary General Dept. of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources September 2003
Secretary General Dept. of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government September 2003
June 2007
Secretary General Dept. of Education and Science June 2007
Independent Nominee
Prof. John Fitzgerald Senior Research Officer, ESRI September 2003
Prof. Eithne McLaughlin Dept. of Social Policy, Queens University, Belfast September 2003
Mr. Colin Hunt Head of Research, Goodbody Stockbrokers September 2003
Dr. Peter Bacon Economic Consultant September 2003
Prof. Brigid Laffan Department of Politics, UCD September 2003
Dr. Sean Barrett (replaced Colin Hunt) Department of Economics, Trinity College January 2005
June 2007
Mr. Con Lucey Economist,IFA June 2007
Prof. Peter Clinch UCD June 2007
Prof. Elizabeth Meehan Queen’s University June 2007

State Board / Agency: National Economic and Social Forum (NESF)

Full Membership 2004

Name Occupation / Organisation Date of Appointment
Independent Chairperson Maureen Gaffney Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Deputy Chairperson Mary Doyle Asst. Sec., Dept. of the Taoiseach Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Strand (i): Oireachtas Michael Woods Fianna Fáil TD Jan/Feb 2004
John Curran Fianna Fáil TD Jan/Feb 2004
Senator Mary O’Rourke Fianna Fáil Jan/Feb 2004
Senator Paschal Mooney Fianna Fáil Jan/Feb 2004
Senator Brendan Daly Fianna Fáil Jan/Feb 2004
Senator Geraldine Feeney Fianna Fáil Jan/Feb 2004
Pat Carey Fianna Fáil TD Jan/Feb 2004
Senator Paul Coghlan Fine Gael Jan/Feb 2004
Damien English Fine Gael TD Jan/Feb 2004
Paul Kehoe Fine Gael TD Jan/Feb 2004
Joan Burton Labour TD Jan/Feb 2004
Willie Penrose Labour TD Jan/Feb 2004
Senator Kate Walsh Progressive Democrats Jan/Feb 2004
Senator Feargal Quinn Independents Jan/Feb 2004
Jerry Cowley Technical Group TD Jan/Feb 2004
Strand (ii): Employer/Trade Unions
Employer/Business Organisations Jackie Harrison IBEC January/February 2004
Maria Cronin IBEC October/November 2004 (replaced Jackie Harrison)
Tony Donohue IBEC September 2006 (replaced Maria Cronin) May 2007
Heidi Lougheed IBEC January/February 2004 May 2007
Patricia Callan Small Firms Association January/February 2004 May 2007
Kevin Gilna Construction Industry Federation January/February 2004
Dr. Peter Stafford Construction Industry Federation replace Kevin Gilna Oct 05
May 2007
Robert O’ Shea Chambers of Commerce/Tourist Industry/Exporters Association January/February 2004
Sean Murphy Chambers of Commerce/Tourist Industry/Exporters Association replaced Robert O’ Shea Aug 05
May 2007
Trade Unions Eamon Devoy Technical Engineering & Electrical Union January/February 2004
May 2007
Blair Horan Civil & Public Service Union January/February 2004
May 2007
Jerry Shanahan AMICUS January/February 2004
May 2007
Manus O’Riordan SIPTU January/February 2004
May 2007
Paula Carey ICTU January/February 2004
Esther Lynch ICTU Sept 2006 (Replaced Paula Carey)
May 2007
Agricultural/Farming Organisations Mary McGreal Irish Farmers Association Jan/Feb 2004
Michael Doody Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Mary Johnson Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society Jan/Feb 2004
Carmel Brennan Macra na Feirme Jan/Feb 2004
Anne Murray Irish Country Women’s Association Jan/Feb 2004
Carmel Dawson Irish Country Women’s Association June 2006 (Replaced Anne Murray)
May 2007
Emer Duffy Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society May 2007
Michael Berkery General Secretary IFA May 2007
Catherine Buckley Macra na Feirme May 2007
Strand (iii): Community & Voluntary Sector
Women’s Organisations Orla O’Connor National Women’s Council of Ireland Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Joanna McMinn National Women’s Council of Ireland Jan/Feb 2004
Unemployed June Tinsley INOU Jan/Feb 2004
John Farrell INOU replaced June Tinsley Oct 05
Patricia Short ICTU Centres for the Unemployed Jan/Feb 2004
Disadvantaged Sr. Brigid Reynolds CORI Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
John-Mark McCafferty Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Audrey Deane Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Nov 2004 (replaced John-Mark McCafferty)
Sharon Keane Anti-Poverty Networks Jan/Feb 2004
Joe Gallagher Anti-Poverty Networks replaced Sharon Keane Sept 05
Youth/Children Malcolm Byrne NYCI Jan/Feb 2004
Marie Claire McAleer NYCI replaced Malcolm Byrne Sept 04
Raymond Dooley Children’s Rights Alliance Jan/Feb 2004
Jillian Ban Turnhout Children’s Rights Alliance replaced Raymond Dooley Aug 05
May 2007
Older People Robin Webster National Council for Ageing and Older People/Senior Citizen’s Parliament/Age Action Jan/Feb 2004
Others Frank Goodwin The Carers Association Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Seamus Boland Irish Rural Link Jan/Feb 2004May 2007
Fergus O’Ferrall The Wheel Jan/Feb 2004
Ivan Cooper The Wheel May 2007
Brid O’ Brien Pavee Point Jan/Feb 2004
Aisling Walsh Disability Federation of Ireland Jan/Feb 2004
Joanne McCarthy Disability Federation of Ireland replaced Aisling Walsh in 2006
May 2007
Michael O’Halloran Chief Executive Officer Irish Senior Citizens Parliament May 2007
Marie Claire McAleer National Youth Council of Ireland May 2007
Karen Murphy Irish Council for Social Housing Head of Services May 2007
Frances Byrne OPEN May 2007
Kathleen McCann Congress Centres Network May 2007
Stavros Stavrou Integrating Ireland May 2007
Maria Joyce National Traveller Womens Forum May 2007
Strand (iv): Central Government, Local Government and Independents
Central Government Secretary General Dept. Finance Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Secretary General Dept. Enterprise, Trade & Employment Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Secretary General Dept. Social & Family Affairs Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Secretary General Dept. Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Secretary General Dept. Environment, Heritage & Local Government Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Local Government Councillor John Egan General Council of County Councils Jan/Feb 2004
Councillor Ger Barron General Council of County Councils Nov 2004 (replaced Cllr. John Egan) May 2007
Councillor Patsy Treanor General Council of County Councils Jan/Feb 2004
Councillor Jack Crowe General Council of County Councils Nov 2004 (replaced Cllr Patsy Treanor)
Councillor Constance Hanniffy General Council of County Councils Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Councillor Patricia McCarthy Association of Municipal Authorities Jan/Feb 2004
Donal O’Donoghue County and City Managers Association Jan/Feb 2004
John Tierney County and City Managers Association Nov 2004 (replaced Donal O’Donoghue)
Councillor Mattie Ryan Association of County and City Councils May 2007
Councillor Paddy O’ Callaghan Association of Municipal Authorities of Ireland May 2007
Councillor William Ireland Local Authorities Members Association May 2007
Independents Dr Colm Harmon Institute for the Study of Social Change, UCD Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Dr Mary P. Corcoran Department of Sociology Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Dr Brian Nolan ESRI Jan/Feb 2004
Paul Tansey Tansey, Webster, Stewart & Company Ltd. Jan/Feb 2004
Cait Keane South Dublin County Council Jan/Feb 2004
May 2007
Marie Carroll Southside Partnership May 2007
Professor Rose Ann Kenny TCD May 2007

[457]Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Taoiseach said recently that membership of Fianna Fáil does not disqualify persons from being appointed to State boards. Was Mr. Joseph Burke re-appointed to [458]the chairmanship of Dublin Port on the basis of his friendship with the Taoiseach or on the basis of merit and experience? His company specialised in refurbishing public houses and employed [459]16 people in north Dublin. The High Court was told the building company had substantial debts. It is no fault of anyone that a business venture fails. Was his re-appointment made on the basis of merit or because he was a friend of the Taoiseach?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Mr. Burke, as a member and chairman of the board for many years, has carried out a hugely successful reform of the port company and is recognised as having done so across all political persuasions. His appointment is made on the basis of the knowledge, expertise and experience he brings to the job. These are the qualities a person should bring to a board. There are many Fine Gael and Labour Party people on boards. Most of the people I have appointed in my Department have a political orientation but are not from my party. They are all appointed on the same criteria. Mr. Burke’s appointment was made on the basis of his knowledge and expertise. The improvements in the industrial relations situation and productivity in the company and the changes he has made over many years stand up to scrutiny by anyone.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  What is the position regarding Oireachtas membership of the National Economic and Social Forum? Have changes been made or are changes intended in line with the recent general election result? The technical group was represented by the former Deputy Jerry Cowley, who was not re-elected to the Dáil, and the Progressive Democrats representative was the late Senator Kate Walsh.

What is the method of selection? Is it made on a ratio basis?

Have the NESF vacancies been addressed since the general election result?

  11 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Changes will have to be made in respect of membership of the NESF to reflect current Oireachtas representation. As I understand it, that is happening or is about to happen. It was agreed earlier this year that the existing 15 Oireachtas nominees to NESF would be reappointed pending the general election following which the position would be revisited. I understand the Whip’s office will shortly be in touch with the parties to seek fresh nominations for the Oireachtas strand. It must be changed based on current Oireachtas representation.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Taoiseach said that membership of the NESF must change and that changes are pending. Is he directly involved in deciding who will fill the vacancies? The Taoiseach indicated that representatives from Fine Gael and the Labour Party will be on boards. Is he willing to consider the appointment of a Sinn Féin representative to the board of NESF as reconstituted following the general elec[460]tion result? There are vacancies on that board. What methodology is used in the selection of appointees? Does the Taoiseach take a direct hand in the selection and, if so, when does he expect to address this matter?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The formula used is based on party representation in the House. Fifteen Members of the House are appointed to the board and it is a straight mathematical division. I have not worked out the new formula though I have included the old one in the reply. I will examine with the Whip’s office what this means for Sinn Féin.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I suppose if it is based on a formula of numbers — the Taoiseach is a man of great skill with numbers and accountancy — that suggests that perhaps we would not have automatic entitlement to one of the 15 positions. Perhaps the Taoiseach will be good enough to consider the contribution we could make.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will consider that. To the best of my knowledge, the Technical Group was represented on the previous board, as were the Progressive Democrats and the Independents. I will look at the formula.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  What changes, if any, have been made since the reformation of the Fianna Fáil Government, with the participation on this occasion of the Green Party, following the general election? Is it the case, as the Taoiseach previously stated publicly, that those selected by him for appointment to boards are his friends? Has there been any move towards the method proposed in March by the Green Party in its Appointments to Public Bodies Bill 2007, which called for an independent and transparent method of appointments to State boards? I have read the programme for Government and cannot find reference therein to any change in the method by which appointments will be made to State boards. Will the Taoiseach say if there has been any change in the method of appointment to State boards and what concession, if any, has been made in respect of the proposals contained in the Green Party’s Bill introduced in the House in March of this year?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Deputy is, of course, misrepresenting my view. I have stated many times that it is no longer easy to get people to serve on State boards, given the commitment required of them, much of the time free gratis and often for very small amounts. Appointments are based on a person’s experience, expertise, willingness to serve and commitment to the organisation in which they are involved. Most appointments to organisations that come within the remit of my Department are nominees from the social partners. Appointments to organisations such as the [461]National Statistics Board and the Law Reform Commission are limited to people with particular expertise in these areas.

There are no proposals or procedures in place to establish an independent system to examine or scrutinise appointments. Ministers and Departments try, to the best of their ability, to select the right people for positions. As I stated many times, people are no longer queueing up, as they did in the past, to participate on State boards. The current situation is different, given the legal position, governance arrangements and the commitment required. A limited number of people have the time or the commitment to get involved. That is a fact of life. We continue to manage to obtain suitable people but doing so is not near as easy as it was ten or 20 years ago.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  What understanding exists between the parties in government with regard to the making of appointments to State boards? Is there an arrangement by which the smaller parties in government can make or recommend nominees for appointment to these boards?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  What normally happens — this has been the case for many years — is that the relevant Department makes a nomination and that is agreed by Government. Legislation in respect of semi-State companies provides that a Minister may make a nomination which is then agreed by Government, and that is what happens. Consideration will be given to a suitable nomination by any member of Government.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Is there an understanding or agreement in terms of allocations, ratios, proportions and so on between the parties in government with regard to the making of appointments to State boards?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  No.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  There is no agreement.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There is no agreement in respect of allocations, ratios and so on. The Deputy is implying that the bigger party gets X and the smaller party gets Y, but there is no such arrangement.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Will the Taoiseach confirm that neither the Green Party nor the Progressive Democrats will be consulted in advance in respect of appointments by Fianna Fáil Ministers to State boards and that they will have absolutely no say in that matter? Will he tell the House what vacancies currently exist on State boards? Will he also list those vacancies and tell us when it is intended to fill them? Will the Taoiseach clarify the question asked earlier, [462]namely, why he forgot to appoint two directors to Aer Lingus?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not wish to be unhelpful to Deputy Shatter but I am answering questions in respect of boards which come under the aegis of my Department. The Government makes appointments to State boards as provided for in legislation. There is consultation with Government in respect of nominations by Ministers, but ultimately the decision is made by the Minister. Much depends on what is provided for in the relevant legislation.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Taoiseach did not respond to my question regarding what vacancies currently exist on State boards. I think the Chief Whip is falling for the Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  He is falling off the job.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  We are anxious not to have a Dublin South constituency accident if by-elections are to be avoided.

Will the Taoiseach list what positions are currently vacant on State boards? In the context of the Taoiseach’s expression of concern in respect of the difficulty of finding suitable people to sit on boards because of the governance provisions and the time commitment, does the Government plan to review the remuneration payable to members appointed to State boards?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not think there is such a proposal, but the Deputy would need to table a question to each Minister in respect of vacancies on State boards that come under the remit of their Departments. I have outlined in my reply the position in respect of my Department.

I have made the point several times that significant issues arise in respect of membership of State boards in terms of time, legal positions and governance arrangements. Most members of State boards are also members of several audit committees and other committees. The situation is unlike it was years ago. Given the volume of legislation enacted in the past 15 years and the practices arising therefrom, it is no longer considered a great plus to be a member of a State board. A limited number of people are prepared to give the time and effort required for State boards. It is for this reason that people of all political persuasions and none are represented on State boards and that is good.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Does the Taoiseach know what positions are currently vacant on State boards?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Is the Deputy referring to my Department?

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  No, on boards in general.

[463]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I have no idea.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Taoiseach has no idea what vacancies exist even in his own Department.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I know of the situation in my Department; that is the subject of these questions.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Which positions are vacant?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The board of the NESF needs to be reappointed.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  The Taoiseach will be aware of requests from the self-catering industry for representation on the board of Fáilte Ireland. This industry is an important part of the sector but because its members are so dispersed throughout the country they have very little influence or voice while big decisions are being made about the future of that sector. The industry has made its case to the Taoiseach and the line Minister for representation on the board. Will the Taoiseach use his influence to ensure they are represented when the vacancy arises?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will bring the matter to the attention of the Minister concerned.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  With respect to the Taoiseach’s statement about the difficulties of finding suitable people, will he inform the House whether these positions are advertised and, if not, why not?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  They are not advertised.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Why not, if there is a difficulty in finding people?

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  Was there ever a case where a person nominated to a board was found subsequently to be disqualified for any reason and that person’s name was withdrawn as a result or was forced to resign from the board as a result of information which the Taoiseach was not aware of when he nominated the person?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Is that with regard to my Department?

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  Yes.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I cannot recall such a situation.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  Will the Taoiseach find out this information?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I suggest the Deputy puts down a question.

[464]Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  The Taoiseach in his reply mentioned that because of recent legislation it is becoming more difficult to find good people to serve on State boards. Is he suggesting that the legislation should be changed. Surely it is most important to find well qualified, good people to serve on boards and if this is being prevented by something in the legislation does he propose a change in the legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  No. Issues of governance and the responsibilities and obligations of directors are the same in the private as in the public sector, as the Deputy will be aware. That means that because of the time commitment, people are not prepared to be members of boards unless they can give the time to do the work to the best of their ability and to participate in committees such as audit committees. The duties and responsibilities of board members are demanding. I talk to many of the key people on State boards on a regular basis and many will say that the time commitment is very high. This is evident in boards in many areas, particularly in the key commercial semi-State sector. Members of such boards do not want to be reappointed. They serve their term which they regard as their duty to the State and they then move on. It is a time commitment.

Many boards hold weekly meetings. I referred earlier to the board of Aer Lingus, some members of which are from the United States so they must travel over for meetings. They put in a considerable effort and the same applies for members of other boards. When membership of a sub-committee is taken into account, such people could have to devote as much as one day a week. That is acceptable if a person is not too busy, but it is a significant commitment for an individual who is a member of one of the key commercial State boards.


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