I move amendment No. 1:
In page 7, to delete line 35 and substitute the following:
“(3) The chairperson of the Board shall be democratically elected by the members of the Board.”.
We welcome this Bill in general and believe putting the National Concert Hall on this footing will be beneficial to it. We have praised the work being done there, the programmes it runs and the investment that has taken place. We do believe there still needs to be a sense of autonomy in the board. We note that the Minister, Deputy Heather Humphreys, gets to a point at which, after a process through the Public Appointments Service, suitable people are selected to serve on the board. I argue that there is a particular dynamic around a board of management of any organisation, and the skill of being a chairperson is a very particular skill, which some people have and others do not. We have seen examples of organisations that are run well because the chairperson can run particular meetings. He or she may not have a particular skill in the arts, music or culture but may be particularly good at managing people, listening and empathising, and able to move an agenda along by making sure that everybody gets heard and certain people do not dominate. Those who are best able to choose the person on the board who is best skilled to be the chairperson are the people who serve on the board. I have seen organisations in which the chairperson has a public role or a background, history or experience in the arts or theatre, and perhaps great public speaking skills, but is not necessarily a great chairperson. He or she could be quite dominant, have a great big ego and see himself or herself as being a step above the rest.
We do not think this amendment is a lot to ask. It is something quite small and would leave the autonomy with the board. It would show that the Minister and any other subsequent Minister who is dealing with the National Concert Hall allows the board the autonomy to choose their own chairperson. The Minister will have chosen every single other member of the board via the appointments process. The Minister herself mentioned on Committee Stage that some of the people chosen might not be known to her, as she would be working from curricula vitae or other documents provided by the Public Appointments Service. She may not have personal knowledge of the people concerned or know what their interpersonal skills are like.
I understand a Minister would have to have a good working relationship with the chairperson of the board, but one would imagine that if all the members of the board were able to jump through the hoops of the Public Appointments Service process, any one of them should potentially be eligible to be a chairperson. The Minister should have no issue working with anybody who has been chosen by the board as chairperson. That is why we put this amendment forward. It is not ground-shaking or radical in any way. It would just send a very strong signal to the board of the National Concert Hall that it was an autonomous board, the members of which stood alone and were allowed to do the job without interference from the Minister or subsequent Ministers in how the National Concert Hall was run. We ask the Minister to consider this while she is putting through this positive Bill, which is a move forward. We ask her to take this amendment on board in the spirit in which it is put forward.