I would like to inform the Deputy there are four agencies which are funded by the Exchequer through my Department's Vote. These are the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI); the Family Support Agency (FSA); the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) and the Ombudsman for Children. With effect from 1 January 2012, I have taken responsibility for the Children Detention Schools as provided in Part 10 of the Children Act 2001.
Apart from the Ombudsman for Children's Office which does not have a board, I am responsible for all Board of Management appointments.
Since I took office in March, 2011 there have been 35 appointments to the Boards of Management under the aegis of my Department.
As the Deputy may be aware, in line with the Government decision of April 2011, new arrangements were put in place for the making of appointments to State Boards and bodies. Following this Government Decision, on my Department's website I have invited expressions of interest from persons interested in being appointed to the boards of State Bodies and Agencies operating under the Department's aegis. The notice indicates the vacancies in the boards of the respective bodies. My officials acknowledge all expressions of interest received and maintain a database of those expressions. My Department’s website is monitored and updated on a regular basis to reflect the number of vacancies as they arise.
The appointment of members to each of these bodies is not a competency-based process. The governing legislation in relation to each of these bodies sets out the composition of the Board either in terms of their qualifications and experience, or the Government Minister or body that is responsible for nominating representatives on them or who must be consulted in the nomination process.
For example, the Adoption Act, 2010 requires that the Adoption Authority of Ireland consists of 7 members – the chairperson must be a Judge, barrister or solicitor and the ordinary members must include a social worker with experience in adoption practice, a social worker with research expertise in child welfare, child protection or both, a barrister or solicitor with experience in the practice of law in relation to families and children, a medical practitioner and a person with appropriate training in psychology.
On the other hand, the Education Welfare Act, 2000 provides that the Minister shall make appointments to the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) from among persons who in the opinion of the Minister have a special interest or expertise in matters relating to the functions of the Board.
There are also prescribed bodies to be consulted in appointing ordinary members. The Family Support Agency Act, 2001 provides that the Minister may appoint individuals to the Board who have a special interest or expertise in matters relating to the functions of the Agency. Of the 10 people appointed to this Board, 9 of the 10 people were appointed after submitting expressions of interest. The other person appointed to this Board was a Departmental representative.
The Children Act, 2001 outlines the different Ministers and organisations that nominate persons to serve on the board of management of the children detention schools.
In making my decisions on appointments to Boards, subject to the governing legislation, I consider the most suitable persons for the positions available with due regard to the body or agency in question and its particular responsibilities and I seek to ensure that the appropriate mix of skills and experience is in place to achieve the best result.
I can confirm to the Deputy that I have not made any appointments to any commercial bodies, state owned banks or the Judiciary since taking office.