Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Boards of National Institutions.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

6 Mr. Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the method of appointing the members of the governing bodies of the National Gallery, the National Museum and the National Library; the current members of these bodies; by whom they were nominated; and the length of time for which they have been members.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

7 Mr. Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if he will consider introducing amending legislation to the Arts and Science Act, 1877, or if he will consider introducing a new Cultural Institutions Bill to provide for a more modern and relevant method of appointing members of the governing bodies of the national cultural institutions.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 7 together.

The information, as requested by the Deputy, in relation to the Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery, the Board of Trustees of the National Library and the Board of Visitors of the National Museum, is set out in the schedule to be circulated in the Official Report.

I am not at present contemplating new legislation along the lines suggested.

The Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland

Legal basis for filling of vacancies: Section XII of the 1854 Act for the Establishment of a National

Gallery of Ireland (Dublin) (Cap. 99, 17 and 18 Vict.)

Name of Board Members

Date of first appointment

No. of years on Board

Government Nominees (10—appointed on a five year renewable basis)

Rt. Hon. the Lord Moyne

8/7/55

35.5

Sir Alfred Beit

1/3/67

23.8

Mr. William D. Finlay, SC (Chairman)

9/4/74

16.7

Prof. Gerald Doyle

13/12/82

8.0

Mr. Gordon Lambert

13/12/82

8.0

Mr. Tony Ryan

5/2/87

3.9

Dr. Bryan Alton

21/7/87

3.5

Mr. Ciaran MacGonigal

9/1/89

1.0

Vacancies: 2

Appointees of the Royal Hibernian Academy (2)

Mr. Noel de Chenu

12/89

1.0

Mr. James Nolan

2/83

7.9

Ex-officio Members (5)

President of R.D.S., Prof. Dervilla Donnelly

7/12/89

1.0

Senior-Vice President of R.D.S., Mr. Sean Tinney

6/12/90

(recent)

President of RHA, Mr. Tom Ryan

22/1/81

9.9

President of RIA, Prof. Aidan Clarke

16/3/90

0.8

Chairman of Office of Public Works, Mr. John Mahony

4/5/88

2.6

Board of Visitors of the National Museum of Ireland and the Botanic Gardens

Legal basis for filling of vacancies: Paragraphs 17 and 18 of the 1881 agreement between the Department of Science and Art, the Commissioners of Public Works and the Royal Dublin Society.

Name of Board Members

Date of first appointment

No. of years on Board

Government Appointees (4—appointed on a 5 year renewable basis)

Mr. P. Heneghan

1/1/86

5.0

Mr. Aidan Walsh

24/3/81

9.8

Dr. Anne Kelly

1/1/86

5.0

Mr. J.J. Costin

24/3/81

9.8

Royal Dublin Society Appointees (5)

Mrs. Joan H. Duff (President)

12/81

9.0

Mrs. Nancy Larchet

2/88

2.9

Patricia Glaser

12/88

2.0

William Dick

12/88

2.0

Henry C. Tierney

12/89

1.0

Royal Irish Academy Appointees (3)

Dr. M. de Paor

3/12/75

15.0

Prof. Holland

5/12/88

2.0

Dr. Watts

3/10/88

2.2

Council of Trustees of the National Library of Ireland

Legal basis for filling of vacancies: Paragraphs 15 and 16 of the 1881 agreement between the Department of Science and Art, the Commissioners of Public Works and the Royal Dublin Society.

Name of Board Members

Date of first appointment

No. of years on Board

Taoiseach's Appointments (4—no fixed term of office)

Rev. Professor F.X. Martin

5/1/71

Ms. Mairín O'Byrne

18/4/73 for 2 years

5.0

Mr. Gerald Sweeney

17/6/75

15.5

Mr. B. T. J. Kiely

15/1/81

9.9

R.D.S. Appointees (8)

Prof. A. C. Hughes

12/69

21.0

Dr. Maurice Craig

12/73

17.0

Mr. Eric Lambert

12/74

16.0

Prof. Denis Crowley

2/79

11.9

Ms. Maura Scannell

7/79

11.5

Dr. R. S. McElhinney

2/83

7.9

Dr. John A. Scott

2/88

2.9

Mairtín McCullough

12.90

(recent)

Would the Taoiseach accept that after almost 120 years, the time has come to review the method of appointing the members of the governing bodies of these institutions and, in view of the fact that Dublin will be the European City of Culture in 1991, that that would be the appropriate year to introduce the necessary legislation? Would he further agree that the terms of office of some of the members of these governing bodies appears to be very long and that some turnover might be desirable?

I have some sympathy with the Deputy's general approach but I do not think there is any great, urgent and immediate difficulty about it. I would like to suggest to the Deputy that we should regard this as a tidying up matter to be dealt with on some suitable occasion but I would not think it warrants legislation. In the meantime, I can assure the Deputy that I will appoint the very best, most fully qualified people to these boards in so far as it is within my power to do so.

That is the point.

I am sure the Taoiseach will accept that the difficulty is that his scope for appointing members to these bodies is very limited. For example, eight members of the board of the National Library are appointed by the RDS while only four are appointed by the State. Would the Taoiseach not agree that a wider range of bodies should be entitled to nominate members to the board and that he should have greater discretion in the matter instead of appointing only one third of the membership?

These are very old, long established, revered and important institutions. I suppose from time to time we should modernise these approaches but, on the other hand, there is a lot to be said for the old traditional method.

A final question from Deputy Bruton.

Would the Taoiseach agree that the composition of these boards represents the financial contributions made by bodies such as the Royal Dublin Society during the 19th century to these institutions and that this is no longer the case because nowadays the State makes almost the entire contribution towards the running of the bodies in question? Would he further agree that this method of appointment has tended to create the condition where the average age of members of boards is rather high? Would he also agree that in a modern era when we are trying to develop our heritage to the fullest extent, particularly to reach young people, we should aim to have a greater representation of younger people on the boards of bodies such as these?

That is a point of view but I am looking at the lists of the various bodies and I cannot really cross my heart and say there is anything very seriously detrimental about any of them. I suppose the Deputies have a point and, as I said, perhaps we will get around to having a look at it in some other context.

Maybe we will have a Private Members' Bill on it.

You would be welcome.