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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

State Appointments to the Boards of RTE and BAI 2014: Dis-improvements

A blog post on the appointment of process to the board of the Irish national public service broadcaster RTE and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland the regulator of public and commercial broadcasting in Ireland.

Summarising and linkifying reporting particularly by the The Phoenix and Colum Kenny in the Irish Independent and putting together research I (and others) posted on the boards.ie thread Oireachtas elect four new members to BAI and RTÉ Board. For me or anyone else to fully understand the story I have to find the links to sources they left out.

The Phoenix


The Phoenix magazine published an article in its 10th of October edition, titled "Oireachtas Omerta on Drinks Lobbyist". It described how Fionnula Sheehan CEO of MEAS (Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society) was nominated by the communications board to the board of RTE. The writer described the difficulty in finding out how it happened, when it happened, who was on the working group, who nominated her etc. He found the working group members [listed below], the 6 members of the working group each nominated a male and female person, four people were then interviewed and nominated by the committee [but not yet officially announced]. He notes the lack of public hearing [as of yet]. He wrote that the Chair of the Committee John O'Mahony (Fine Gael) nominated her. Fionnula Sheehan would have lobbied now Minister for Communications Alex White against certain restrictions on alcohol when he was Minister of State in the Department of Health.

Despite the Department of Communications boasting the most reforms in regard to appointments to state boards over the last few governments, there have actually been dis-improvements in the process in 2014, with less people interviewed for RTE and BAI boards and no involvement of the independent Public Appointments Service.

egovernance.ie 2007
Launch of egovernance.ie website, which lists appointments and vancancies of 18 state boards. Speech by Minister Noel Dempsey, T.D. at the Launch of eGovernance.ie Website Monday, 2 April 2007.

Broadcasting 2009 Act

The Broadcasting 2009 Act allows the Communications Committee to nominate 4 people to the RTE board and 4 people to the BAI board.

Major changes heralded in broadcasting as new laws enacted Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources - 15th July 2009.
New rules for appointments to the BAI, RTÉ and TG4

For the first time ever, members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will present names for nomination to these bodies.

Broadcasting Act 2009 PART 2 Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Section 8
Appointment of Authority, Contract Awards Committee and Compliance Committee.

8.— (1) The members of the Authority shall be 9 in number, of which—

(a) 5 of them shall be appointed by the Government on the nomination of the Minister, and

(b) subject to subsection (2), 4 of them shall be appointed by the Government on the nomination of the Minister.

(2) Where an appointment is to be made by the Government under subsection (1)(b) or under that paragraph arising from a vacancy referred to in section 10 (11)—

(a) the Minister shall inform the Joint Oireachtas Committee of the proposed appointment,

(b) the Minister in respect of an appointment under subsection (1) (a) shall provide a statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee indicating the relevant experience and expertise of the persons or person nominated by the Minister for appointment or appointed by the Government on the nomination of the Minister, and such other matters as the Minister considers relevant,

(c) the Joint Oireachtas Committee shall within the period of 90 days of being so informed, advise the Minister of the names of the persons or name of the person it proposes that the Minister should nominate under subsection (1) (b) giving reasons, such as relevant experience and expertise, in relation to the proposed named persons or person,

(d) the Minister shall have regard to the advice and may accept the proposed named persons or some of them or the named person or decide to nominate as he or she sees fit other persons or another person, and

(e) inform the Joint Oireachtas Committee of his or her decision.

The minister has to tell the Committee who he is nominating so they can balance the board mix of skills when choosing who they nominate.
Note how the minister only has to have 'regard' for the committees nominations and can nominate someone else.

Broadcasting Act 2009 PART 7 Public Service Broadcasting Section 81
Appointment of board.

81.— (1) The number of members of the board of a corporation shall be 12 in number, of which—
(b) subject to subsection (2), 4 of them shall be appointed by the Government on the nomination of the Minister,

(2) Where an appointment is to be made by the Government under subsection (1)(b) or under that paragraph arising from a vacancy referred to in section 84 (12)—

(a) the Minister shall inform the Joint Oireachtas Committee of the proposed appointment,

(b) The Minister in respect of an appointment under subsection (1)(a) shall provide a statement to the Joint Oireachtas Committee indicating the relevant experience and expertise of the persons or person nominated by the Minister for appointment or appointed by the Government on the nomination of the Minister, and such other matters as the Minister considers relevant,

(c) the Joint Oireachtas Committee shall within the period of 90 days of being so informed, advise the Minister of the names of the persons or name of the person it proposes that the Minister should nominate under subsection (1)(b) giving reasons, such as relevant experience and expertise, in relation to the proposed named persons or person,

(d) the Minister shall have regard to the advice and may accept the proposed named persons or some of them or the named person or decide to nominate as he or she sees fit other persons or another person, and

(e) inform the Joint Oireachtas Committee of his or her decision.

The minister has to tell the Committee who he is nominating so they can balance the board mix of skills when choosing who they nominate.
Note how the minister only has to have 'regard' for the committees nominations and can nominate someone else.

Criteria

The criteria as listed in the advertisement via thejournal.ie. 18th July 2014.

Broadcasting Act 2009 PART 7 Public Service Broadcasting Criteria for board membership.

82.— (1) A person shall not be appointed to be a member of the board of a corporation unless he or she has experience of or shown capacity in one or more of the following matters—

(a) media affairs,

(b) public service broadcasting,

(c) broadcast content production,

(d) digital media technologies,

(e) trade union affairs,

(f) business or commercial affairs,

(g) matters pertaining to the development of the Irish language,

(h) matters pertaining to disability,

(i) arts, music, sport or culture,

(j) science, technology or environmental matters,

(k) legal or regulatory affairs, and

(l) social, educational or community activities or Gaeltacht affairs,

Broadcasting Act 2009 PART 2 Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Criteria for membership.
9.— (1) A person shall not be appointed by the Government to be a member of the Authority or a statutory committee unless he or she has had experience of or shown capacity in one or more of the following areas—

(a) media affairs,

(b) public service broadcasting, commercial broadcasting or community broadcasting,

(c) broadcast content production,

(d) digital media technologies,

(e) trade union affairs,

(f) business or commercial affairs,

(g) matters pertaining to the development of the Irish language,

(h) matters pertaining to disability,

(i) arts, music, sport or culture,

(j) science, technology or environmental matters,

(k) legal or regulatory affairs, and

(l) social, educational or community affairs or Gaeltacht affairs.

Advertisements
The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources put a general call for expressions of interest for appointment to boards of bodies under the aegis of the Department 2013 on 15th February 2013.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr. Pat Rabbitte T.D., invites expressions of interest from suitably qualified and experienced persons interested in being appointed to the following boards of State Bodies operating under the aegis of his Department where vacancies will occur in the coming 12 months:

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland
RTÉ
TG4

which seemed to stretch long into 2014,

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Appointments to State Boards
In the current 2013/2014 call for Expressions of Interest there have been 118 applications received to date following the advertisement for Expressions of Interest from which 9 appointments were made.

There have been 114 appointments made to State Boards under the aegis of my Department in the period March 2011 to date. The percentage of these appointments filled from the Expressions of Interest received amounts to 15%. It should be noted that about 30% of the appointments made were either ex-officio appointments, reappointments, the appointment of worker directors chosen by election, or appointments made from nominations made by an Oireachtas Committee.

The Communications, Energy, Natural Resources, Transport, Tourism and Sport committee put out a general call for expression of interest in state boards in October 2013.

The department put out a general call for expressions of interest for boards under its aegis in November 2013, Communications Committee invites expressions of interest for State Board nominations, including the board of RTE and the BAI.

The commmittee on Communications put out more specific call in July 2014. Communications Committee invites expressions of interest in nominations to RTÉ and BAI boards 17 July 2014
“We invite expressions of interest to these important boards with a view to considering them for nomination to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Those putting forward their names should attach a short history of their work experience, detailing which of the criteria for appointment they satisfy, as well as a copy of their CV."

They removed the deadline date. What was it?

RTE is looking for members of the public to join its board Jul 18 2014 thejournal.ie, has the full ad but no deadline date.

Empty chairs around another boardroom table Bernice Harrison Irish Times Sep 11, 2014.

Notes the vacancies on the board and some of the picks will only start their terms when previous terms expire in February 2015.

The members of the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications, the sub-committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resourcesand the RTE and BAI board appointment working group, according to The Phoenix October 10th 2014.

Joint Committee on Transport and CommunicationsPartyTypeCommunications Sub-CommitteeWorking Group
John O’Mahony (Chairman)Fine GaelChairyesyes
Paudie Coffey (Vice Chairman)Fine GaelMOS in Julyyes 
Michael ColreavySinn FéinTDyesyes
Timmy DooleyFianna FáilTDyesyes
Dessie EllisSinn FéinTD  
Anne FerrisLabourTD  
Tom FlemingIndependentTD  
Brendan GriffinFine GaelTDyes 
Noel HarringtonFine GaelTDyes 
Seán KennyLabourTDyes 
Eamonn MaloneyLabourTDyes 
Helen McEnteeFine GaelTD yes
Michael MoynihanFianna FáilTDyes 
Patrick O’DonovanFine GaelTD  
Mick WallaceIndependentTDyes 
Terry BrennanFine GaelSenators yes
Sean D. BarrettIndependentSenators  
Eamonn CoghlanFine GaelSenators  
Paschal MooneyFianna FáilSenators yes
Ned O’SullivanFianna FáilSenators  
John WhelanLabourSenators  

Paudie Coffey was appointed a Minister of State in early July, so would not take further part in the Committee.

The nominations
New appointments to RTÉ board and BAI Irish Times - Aine McMahon - Oct 2, 2014

The news broke on the 2nd of October after the controversy over John McNulty appointment to a state board to pad his CV for elections, the Minister had to state that the appointments to RTE and BAI would not be done under the new arrangements being put in place in reaction to that controversy.

Statement by Minister Alex White on forthcoming appointments to the boards of State Bodies 17 October 2014.
The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has welcomed the introduction of the revised model for Ministerial Appointments to State Boards which was recently announced by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform following a Government decision on the matter.

It will take time for these arrangements to become established. In the meantime, a number of existing vacancies on boards of State Bodies under the aegis of the Minister’s Department need to be addressed. The State Bodies concerned are RTE, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. These vacancies will be filled to enable the boards to discharge their statutory functions, and therefore the Minister will bring proposals to Government shortly.

Two members of the Communications Committee discussed the process on October 2nd in the Seanad
Paschal Mooney (Fianna Fail) As a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications I went through a process this summer, with my committee colleagues, of sifting through 140 curricula vitaesent in by members of the public, in response to an advertisement from the committee. This was to recommend four members for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and four members for the RTE Authority to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Alex White. We interviewed all eight candidates yesterday, which was an exercise in democracy at its purest. All parties and none applauded it.
I know that Senator Brennan, who is on the committee, will agree that while the process was very difficult and burdensome because of the time it consumed over the summer, we came up with four people for each board of whom we can feel very proud. They have come through a very pure democratic process. I have no idea what, if any, their political affiliations are, and Senator Brennan would say the same. They are recommended on merit. I welcome that process.

Senator Mooney says they looked at 140 CVs and reveals only 8 chosen were interviewed on 1st of October.

Terry Brennan (Fine Gael) Cronyism, favouritism and jobs for the boys and ladies has been a topical issue in both Houses for the past week or so. I note that like my colleague on the opposite side of the House, Senator Mooney, I took part in a working group in which we examined 129 applications for appointments to the RTE Authority and to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. It involved 129 highly qualified people and that working group had the difficult task of reducing the number down to eight, that is, four to RTE and four to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. As Senator Mooney noted, we have been taking part in this exercise for the past two months or more. Yesterday, we interviewed those whom we had chosen from their curricula vitae and I feel honoured to have been part of this working group, which chose eight highly qualified people, men and women, who will be a major asset. My point is this is the manner in which appointments to all State boards should take place. There was no cronyism, no one approached me on behalf of anyone, there was no favouritism or anything but we had a consensus and chose eight great people. As Senator Mooney also stated, no one knew what politics they had. They were not jobs for the boys and this is the way it should be.

Senator Brennan says the process took 2 months, and reveals they had applications from 129 people for the RTE and BAI boards.

Nominees
Minister White nominates RTÉ Chair and Board Members 4 November 2014

The Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Mr Alex White, TD, today obtained Government approval for the appointment of seven new members of the RTÉ Board.

On the Minister’s nomination, Moya Doherty was appointed as Chair to serve alongside four newly appointed Ministerial nominees; Frank Hannigan, Deborah Kelleher, PJ Mathews, Anne O’Leary. Mr Fergus Armstrong was also reappointed to the Board. In addition, the recently elected RTÉ staff representative, Mr Aengus Mac Grianna, was appointed by Government. RTÉ director-general Noel Curran is also a member of the Board. Four existing board members, nominated by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, remain in place until their terms expire in February 2015.

Moya Doherty (Chair)
Fergus Armstrong
Deborah Kelleher
Frank Hannigan
P.J. Mathews
Anne O’Leary
Aengus Mac Grianna (Staff Representative)
Noel Curran (Director-general of RTE)

8 new nominees for the RTÉ and BAI Boards 3rd October 2014

The Communications Committees nominees are

for the RTÉ board:
Padraig O'Ceidigh, Founder of Aer Arann
Margaret E Ward, financial journalist and entrepreneur
Shane Naughton, Chief Financial Officer with the Economist Group
Fionnuala Sheehan, Founder of the alcohol marketing programme drinkaware.ie.

for the BAI:
Clare Duignan, former Managing Director of RTÉ Radio
Dr Rosemary Day of the Department of Media at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick
Professor Maeve McDonagh of the Faculty of Law at University College Cork
Denis Wolinski, former head of the Independent Television Commission in Northern Ireland.

The communications committee haven't officially announced these names yet and the Minister BAI appointments have not yet been announced.

Current BAI board members October 2014.
Current RTE board members November 2014.

Note the vacancies on the board and some of the picks will only start their terms when previous terms expire in February 2015.

BAI board timeline
Data

RTE board timeline
Data

2009 RTE and BAI board appointments process

Professor Colum Kenny who was appointed to the BAI in 2009 described the process Government set to revert to habit on RTE and BAI. Independent 02/11/2014.

Five years ago, when the Oireachtas committee filled some seats on the RTE board and the BAI by open competition, the process included interviews conducted under the auspices of the Public Appointments Service and a public hearing in the Oireachtas. This time around the Oireachtas committee dispensed with competitive interviews and made the final selection on paper before calling its chosen eight to a confirmation session behind closed doors.

Need to find the ad for the 2009 process. Found a reference to it here Can't find it in Oireachtas press releae archive

Candidates for RTÉ Board and Broadcasting Authority to Present Credentials to Oireachtas Communications Committee 15 December 09

Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Nominations to Board of RTÉ: Discussion. Wednesday, 16 December 2009
Following receipt of applications we compiled a shortlist. We had 269 applications, 139 for the RTÉ board and 130 for the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland. The shortlist comprised 44 people. Following preliminary discussions with the shortlisted candidates, 20 people were called for formal interview. The interview board was made up of four members of the joint committee, Deputies Simon Coveney and Liz McManus, Senator Joe O’Toole and myself. The interviews were facilitated by the Public Appointments Service, who also gave us invaluable advice and assistance throughout the process, for which we are very grateful. The interviewing panel took two days to interview the shortlisted candidates.

They interviewed 10 for each board, as opposed to just meeting the 4 they had chosen in 2014.
The interview board has recommended eight people to the joint committee, four for each board. The purpose of today’s meeting is to give committee members a forum to question the eight candidates in order to confirm that they have the required skills and experience to serve on these important authorities, and also to afford the candidates an opportunity to address the full joint committee.

Will this happen in 2014?

Mentions the use of the Public Appointments Service.

Oireachtas Communications Committee Ratifies New Members of RTÉ Board and Broadcasting Authority of Ireland 16 December 09

FOI request on the 2009 process, its inlcudes emails to the Public Appointment Service, document 13.

The same solicitor sent a second FOI request the response was appointment letters from further back.

Joint Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources ANNUAL REPORT 2007 -2009 February 2010 doesn't mention the assistance of the Public Appointment Service in its new process of nominating to state boards.

9. Nominations to State Bodies

The Joint Committee, under the terms of the Broadcasting Act 2009, recommended the names of 8 individuals to the Minister, 4 for nomination to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and 4 for nomination to the Board of RTÉ.

The Joint Committee was aware from the outset that this process, in addition to being a new responsibility for the Committee, was an innovation in the way members of such bodies are selected for nomination. The Committee undertook to design a process which would ensure that the selection process would be transparent and open; accessible to anyone meeting the required criteria, and that it would enable the Committee to select the best candidates for the role, based on merit, while being subject to compliance with the legislation and best practise in appointments procedure.

It is envisaged that this procedure may become an ongoing feature of the work of the Joint Committee.

Public Appointments Service

Some Public Appointments Service documents mention the assistance of the Public Appointment Service in its new process of nominating to state boards eg RTE.

1. Shared Services Provided to Clients Outside of Our Traditional Remit Q2 2011 & Q1 2012

PAS Case Study 3

PAS involvement with processes for Appointments to State Boards in this period

While appointments to State Boards do not fall within the remit of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004, the recruitment and selection process is nonetheless, conducted within the spirit of the codes of practice established by the Commissioners for Public Service Appointments. The codes reflect the core principles of:
Probity
Merit
Best Practice
Fairness and Consistency
Openness, Accountability and Transparency

There is a growing interest across departments in developing a more transparent approach to the filling of state board vacancies and our service is being called upon on a more frequent basis to ensure that there is a fair process and some clear criteria underpinning such appointments.

The processes with which PAS has been involved to date has been personalised to each particular vacancy, Agency and Department. We have met with each Department and their Liaison Officer to discuss their specific needs. We have assisted them in identifying the generic competencies and the agency specific competencies necessary for the positions.

The following is the process that is currently in place:

Expressions of interest for Board vacancies are advertised on the relevant Department’s website which is linked to the PAS website, publicjobs.ie. Interested individuals can apply for board positions by completing a short structured application and competencies form and by providing a curriculum vitae and a letter detailing their expertise and experience. In addition, an alert issues to our database of people who have registered their interest in being appointed to State Boards to inform them of vacancies as they arise. Departments sometimes require different levels of assistance. To date we have provided the initial filtering of applications and we have assisted with the short listing of applications based on an agreed criterion. In some instances an interview process may be required for example, the RTE Board. Finally a qualified shortlist of candidates is submitted to the relevant Minister. Ministers are not usually restricted to considering only those who make application through publicjobs.ie.

Public Appointments Service Annual Report 2009
A welcome development during the year was the involvement of PAS in a new approach to the appointment of people to State Boards. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communication, Energy a nd Natural Resources sought the assistance of PAS in supporting them to undertake an open campaign to seek expressions of interest for Members of the RTÉ Board and of the Broadcasting Authority for Ireland. Candidates selected through the process appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee in public session before being recommended for appointment. Four names for each Board were forwarded by the Committee to the Minister. This is a new approach to the filling of appointments to State Boards and it has generated considerable interest from the public. We also provided assistance with the processing of applications for other State Boards (i.e. NAMA, FAS).

Public Service Agreement.

Stateboards.ie

Government to make State appointments more transparent

Howlin announces revised model for ministerial appointments to state boards.

Howlin Announces Revised Model for Ministerial Appointments to State Boards.

Stateboards.ie

There are currently no State Board appointments available. Please check back again soon

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White TD when asked in the Dail about Appointments to State Boards and the assistances of the Public Appointment Service in doing so.

In accordance with the Government Decision of 12 April 2011, my predecessor commenced a process of seeking, on the Department’s website, expressions of Interest from persons wishing to be considered for appointment to vacancies on State Boards under the aegis of this Department. This information has been used to inform decisions for such appointments, but I would stress that such invitations are designed to extend the range of suitable persons from which a Minister might make appointments, not to constrain it.

Fionnuala Sheehan
When it was announced that Fionnuala Sheehan CEO of MEAS, a drinks industry funded body for 'responsible drinking' was nominated to the RTE board it was questioned and criticised by a number of people including Roisin shorthall TD, it was announced on the September 30th Fionnuala Sheehan had that she was stepping down from MEAS. The question is now, who will she be working for?

Minister urged not to accept Meas nomination to RTÉ board- Irish Times

Minister urged not to endorse MEAS chief's nomination to RTÉ board- RTÉ

Links

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Seanad Bye-election John McNulty's IMMA appointment correspondence

Some more Freedom of Information files were released relating to the appointment of John McNulty to the board of the Irish Museum of modern art shortly before that position was used as qualification for nomination to the Senate. Following on from the IMMA correspondence that Katie Hannon for RTE Primetime got via FOI.

John McNulty said on Highland Radio that he met Enda Kenny around the 4th September.

John McNulty got IMMA post within two days of request Harry McGee 29th of October 2014.

A memo from the 10th on the cultural board vacancies listed 6 on the IMMA board even though the department had promised to limit it to 9, and 9 positions were occupied.

National Gallery of Ireland, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Crawford Art Gallery
• The boards of the three institutions to be scaled back to a maximum of 9 members each, including the Chair (a reduction of the order of between 40 – 50 %).

Fionnan Sheahan on RTE DriveTime 26 September at 19m. Relays the timeline issues, IMMA appointment on Friday 12th, Saturday 13th Fine Gael executive council met in Galway, the rest of Fine Gael told on the 17th of September.



We still don't know who was on the 5 member executive council Seanad sub-committee who were said at the time to have been overruled by Enda Kenny and his party officials. Or were they perhaps they knew about it all, they haven't said otherwise.

Here is John McNulty’s handwritten note accepting his controversial state board appointment TheJournal.ie Hugh O'Connell 29th October 2014.

He wrote a note of acceptance on the 15th of September and sent an email of same to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on the 16th.

I was told that John McNulty was appointed as soon as the minister deemed him to be on 12th, so his acceptance on the 15th immaterial, he had already agreed to be put on the board at some point before the 12th.

It was late on the 17th of September Fionnan Sheahan revealed his name as the nominee for the Seanad Businessman who lost council election to run for the Seanad Independent.ie

Read my previous Seanad Bye-election posts for the rest of the story.