The National Educational Welfare Board was established on an interim or designate basis at the end of May 2001 and held its first meeting on 15 June 2001. The board was set up on an interim basis to allow it to prepare and plan for the introduction of a new educational welfare service. The post of chief executive was advertised in November 2001 and interviews were held in early 2002. A person considered suitable by the board was offered the appointment and he accepted it. He notified the board very shortly before he was due to take up the post, however, that he was not going to do so. This gave rise to a difficult situation, which the board attempted to address by appointing an interim chief executive.
The board was placed on a full statutory footing on 4 March 2002, through the commencement of certain sections of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000. All sections of the Act were commenced from 5 July this year. The board is fully established as an independent body and is comprised of people representing school management, teachers, parents, the school attendance service, the voluntary sector and a number of Departments involved in child welfare matters. It is recruiting staff for its head office, including senior management. The board has advertised these posts and the selection process is under way. In addition, the Act provided that school attendance officers become staff of the board and this cohort of staff now works to the board. Including senior posts, this inherited cohort of staff totals 36 in number. These members of staff have been authorised by the board to carry out a range of school attendance duties.
The Deputy has provided no details of the newspaper reports of a court case referred to in her question. As a general rule, however, I do not consider it appropriate to comment on court proceedings in particular cases, especially where a case might be ongoing.