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Minister satisfied State boards appointment process is "fair and transparent"

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan made the comments in response to a question from Deputy Mick Wallace. His question came after a report found that there are issues regarding transparency in appointments to State boards.

Deputy Jan O'Sullivan
Deputy Jan O'Sullivan
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE PROCESS FOR appointing people to State boards is “fair and transparent”, Minister Jan O’Sullivan has said.

She made the comment in response to a Dáil question from Deputy Mick Wallace on foot of a new report, State boards in Ireland 2012 – Challenges for the future (PDF), which said that State boards are performing well, but the appointment process and relevant skills need to be addressed.

Transparency

The DOI said that there are issues regarding transparency in the process of appointment to State boards and though the level of political involvement in State bodies is at an appropriate level, there is widespread support for more defined independence from the political system in relation to board appointments.

The majority (74 per cent) of directors surveyed do not believe that the process of appointment to State boards is fair and transparent.

An Bord Pleanála

Deputy Wallace asked that in view of the report, if the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government would outline the criteria and process by which new members were selected and appointed to An Bord Pleanála. He pointed out that there is only one architect sitting on the appeals board and no member holds a professional qualification in conservation or urban design.

He also asked if any of these new members were direct appointments made by the Minister under Section 106 (1) (e) of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

This section refers to:

One member who, in the Minister’s opinion, has satisfactory experience, competence or qualifications as respects issues relating to the environment and sustainability.

Deputy Wallace further asked the Minister if he would state whether the most recent appointments to An Bord Pleanála were made under Section 106 (1) or Section 106 (7) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and to specify the criteria used in the nomination and the appointment process.

Planning and Development Acts

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, Jan O’Sullivan, replied to the queries.

She said that the Planning and Development Acts 2000 – 11 provide that the Board comprises a Chairperson and up to 9 ordinary members.

The processes for the appointment of the Chair and ordinary Board Members are clearly and transparently set out under sections 105–107 of the Act and associated regulations.
In relation to the position of Chairperson, the appointment is made by Government from candidates selected by an independent statutory selection committee.

The Minister added that the composition of this committee is set out under section 105 of the Act and the committee selects a maximum of three suitable candidates in a publicly advertised open competition.

The selection committee established in accordance with the Act includes:

  • The President of the High Court
  • The Chairperson of An Taisce
  • The Cathaoirleach of the General Council of County Councils
  • The President of the Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Dr Mary Kelly was appointed in May 2011 on foot of this process.

The appointment process for ordinary Board Members provides that appointments are made by the Minister from nominees put forward by four representative panels of nominating bodies, which represent a wide range of interests.

Arising from four recent appointments made by Minister Hogan, the Board will shortly comprise eight members including the Chair.

Minister O’Sullivan concluded:

None of the recent appointments was made under section 106(1)(e). I am satisfied that the current nomination and appointment process is fair and transparent.

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