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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 3 Dec 1997

Vol. 484 No. 1

Ceisteanna—Questions. - Ministerial Appointments.

John Bruton


4 Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach the number of women appointed by him to State boards, committees, working parties or task forces under the aegis of his Department. [21156/97]

I have not made any new appointments to the State boards, committees, working groups or task forces under the aegis of my Department since I became Taoiseach. The only vacancy which has arisen in the bodies under the aegis of my Department is that of President of the Law Reform Commission.

As stated in my written reply to Deputy Sargent's Parliamentary Question No. 100 on 19 November 1997, the Government reappointed Mr. Justice Anthony Hederman as President of the Law Reform Commission until 30 June 1998.

Has the Government maintained the 40 per cent minimum quota for men and women in all the appointments made to State boards?

The female representation on boards under the aegis of my Department is in excess of 40 per cent. The Cabinet has continued to follow the system adopted by successive Governments in endeavouring to maintain and exceed the 40 per cent quota for women representatives on State boards.

A formal Government decision was taken that, at least, 40 per cent of appointments should be gender balanced and represent women and men. The Taoiseach has overall responsibility for all Departments. Can he indicate whether this decision has been reversed or supplanted or does the decision of a previous Administration, of which we were both Members, prevail?

That decision was introduced by the former Deputy Taylor with my support as Minister for Finance. It still applies.

Has the Taoiseach's attention been drawn to a statement by the Council for the Status of Women which, while acknowledging the efforts to achieve a 40 per cent minimum representation of men and women on State boards, has noted that only 50 of the 308 chairmen of State boards and committees are women? This indicates an under-representation of women at the top level on State boards.

I launched a report for the council at which members pointed out this situation. The council produces useful research which focuses on this issue. It is not a simple issue to address but the council has made recommendations which are useful to Government. It has also put forward the names of appropriate people which it has asked the Government to consider.