I propose to take Questions Nos. 395, 396 and 398 together.
The statutory bodies operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection are the Citizens Information Board, the Pensions Board, the Pensions Ombudsman (which does not have a board) and the Social Welfare Tribunal.
Citizens Information Board
I have made three appointments to the Citizens Information Board since coming into office. Mr Eugene Mc Erlean was appointed with effect from 7 September 2011 in line with the procedures for appointment to State Boards and bodies agreed by Government in May 2011.
The appointment was cognisant of his experience in the areas of finance, money management and debt settlement services and in legal matters.
The other two appointments did not require public advertisement as one was the Department’s representative to the Board, Ms Fiona Ward who was first appointed on 1 November 2011, and the other was the CIB’s staff representative to the Board, Mr David Stratton who was appointed on 5 November 2012, as provided for the in the governing legislation - the Comhairle Act 2000, as amended by the Citizens Information Act 2007.
Of the 15 members on the Board of CIB, my appointments represent 20% of the total membership.
Arrangements are being made to seek public expressions of interest in two existing board vacancies which will also be filled in accordance with the procedures for appointment to State boards and bodies agreed by Government in May 2011.
No appointments have been made by me to the Pensions Board since I took office.
The Public Service Reform Programme provides for a critical review of the integration of the regulatory functions of the Pensions Board with the Financial Regulator and the merging of the Pensions Ombudsman with the Financial Services Ombudsman. The Critical Review Group, established to carry out the review, is finalising a draft report with recommendations.
Social Welfare Tribunal
The Board of the Social Welfare Tribunal is appointed for a three year term. It consists of a Chairperson and four ordinary members, two of whom are nominated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and two by the Irish Business Employer Confederation (IBEC).
There have been 6 appointments to the board since I took office. One of the ICTU members of the Tribunal resigned in 2011 and on their nomination, a replacement member was appointed from 24th October 2011. All appointments were due for renewal on 4th October 2012. Four members of the previous board and one new person, nominated by IBEC, were appointed to the new board effective from the 5th October 2012.
Legislation provides that the four ordinary members of the Tribunal are appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the two relevant bodies, ICTU and IBEC. Both bodies forwarded their nominations and were duly approved and appointed by me. The Chairperson is sourced by the Department of Social Protection by way of a recommendation from the Labour Court with regard to a particular candidate’s suitability. The Chairperson, who was re-appointed in 2012, has held the position since 2003. He is a former Rights Commissioner with extensive experience in dispute resolution and has been proven to hold all of the qualifications, skills and competencies necessary for the position.
The revised Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies does not apply to the Social Welfare Tribunal due to its structure and purpose.