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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Seanad Bye-Election 10th October post 6 State Board Appointments process, previous government changes in 2011

In April-May 2011 the government announced it would advertise all state board positions, for chairs of boards in newspapers and ordinary members online on the department's website atleast.

I searched but cannot find a definitive announcement of this decision which would be directed via Brendan Howlins Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. I also searched Merrionstreet - Irish Government News service.

There references in parliamentary answers about 'Government Decision S180/20/10/1424 of April 2011' and in many other replies and the ads themselves like this example from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

In accordance with the Government’s recent decision, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Mr. Brendan Howlin TD, invites expressions of interest from persons interested in being appointed to the boards of State Bodies and Agencies operating under the Department’s aegis.

but still,

In making any board appointments, the Minister will not necessarily be confined to those who make such expressions of interest but will ensure that all of those appointed have the relevant qualifications for the positions.

There wasn't much coverage of the decision that week, there was an article in the Irish Times Public can apply for State board vacancies Irish Times Stephen Collins April 13, 2011 Snippet of article available via Highbeam archive.

At its meeting yesterday the Cabinet approved a memorandum from Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin proposing that vacancies on State boards should in future be advertised on the website of the relevant Government department.

and a very short news piece on RTE
State board nominees to face Oireachtas RTE news 12 April 2011.
Government departments will also invite expressions of interest for places on State boards when they become vacant.

It is anticipated that the advertisement will appear on departmental websites.

The Taoiseach


Fine Gael promised in its pre-election manifesto (page 64) Fine Gael assserted.

To facilitate the transition to the new regime, the directors of all State bodies will be asked to resign and re-apply for their positions within six months of a Fine Gael led Government coming into power.

The issue was only raised that April in the context of Enda Kenny getting advice from the Attorney General that they could not repeal appointments made in the last minute by the previous government.

Appointments to State Boards Wednesday, 13 April 2011.

The Taoiseach: I asked the Attorney General for her advice regarding the appointments to State boards by Ministers of the former Government in the period between the recent election campaign and the formation of the new Government, the appropriateness of these appointments during that period and whether there may be an opportunity to address this further. During this period of time, the previous Government appointed 110 people to State boards. Legal advice from the Attorney General states that it is not possible to remove these appointees.

(each summer, after elections and the time around reshuffle also seem to times when these announcement are made and made to go unnoticed, its ridiculous that TDs have to ask questions in the Dail every now again (or having to email the dept) in order for anyone to become aware of these appointments, and that they are not automatically listed. Catherine Murphy has to ask about appointments to state boards by the Departments of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht from Minister Jimmy Deenihan shortly after the local elections and shortly before the reshuffle where Jane Dillon Byrne who failed to retain her council seat was appointted to IMMA.)

and an announcement of the decision to advertise positions in May 2011,

Appointments to State Boards Tuesday, 3 May 2011.

The Taoiseach: The Government has decided that new arrangements will be put in place for the making of appointments to State boards and bodies. In future, Departments will invite expressions of interest on their websites for vacancies on the boards of bodies under their aegis. Ministers will not necessarily be confined to those who make expressions of interest, but will ensure all appointees have the relevant qualifications.

The Taoiseach: The Government has also decided that those who are being proposed for appointment as chairpersons of State boards will be required to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas committee to discuss the approach they will take as chairperson and their views about the future contribution of the body or board in question. Following that discussion, decisions will be taken by the Minister or the Government, as appropriate, to confirm the nominee as chairperson.

The Taoiseach: The change here is pretty dramatic in the context of what went on before.
The Taoiseach: There is a difference between what will happen in the future and what occurred in the past

Other Ministers

'Good Governance: setting the tone from the top' at Institute for Public Administration by the recently appointed Minister of State for Public Sector Reform, Brian Hayes, TD April 8th, 2011

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar announced all appointments to state bodies under his department would be advertised before it was agreed by cabinet.

Varadkar says vacancies on State boards to be advertised
THE MINISTER for Transport, Tourism and Sport has announced that all vacancies on State boards in the coming year under his remit will be advertised over the next few weeks. A memorandum for Government on appointments to semi-State bodies is currently being prepared by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin.

State Board jobs to be open to public. The Herald, Cormac Murphy – 29 March 2011.
Varadkar jumps gun over how to fill state board jobs. Independent Michael Brennan 29/03/2011.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar)

Since my Department advertised new procedures for appointments to boards on Friday 8th April 2011, all appointments from that date have followed these procedures. However given the importance of ensuring the right mix of skills and experience on every board,
but still
appointments are not necessarily confined to those who have made an expression of interest.

(Must add information about his Private members bill on appointments from Varadkar 2008 and his aim for reduction in quangos.)

Public Appointments Transparency Bill 2008 [PMB] Sponsored by Deputy Leo Varadkar.
First StageDebate 2008 Oireachtas.ie.
Second Stage.

Departments
Departments which already list state board appointments and vacancies Listed the ones I found so far, and what details they provided. Haven't checked them all yet.

Education and Skills.
Transport, Tourism and Sport.
Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
Agriculture, Food and the Marine (lists vacancies).

As always pdf's are not the best way to do this, need some way to be automatically notified of vacancies and appointments as they come about, Brendan Howlin says they will be all advertised and listed on stateboards.ie soon but thats more future promises I'm not interested in. I asked for all senior civil and public service positions to be listed on data.gov.ie.

Fees
Senator Katherine Zappone received a partial list of fees via the Oireachtas Library and Research Services.

I don't have problem with a small payment for chairs or travel expenses for members, I'd actually be more worried why they so keen to do it for nothing as we've seen in this case.

I looked at the powers of Minister in my previous post.

Committees advising Ministers

Eamon ryan in recent days pointed to his party's time in government having made the biggest changes in state board appointments particular in the area of Broadcasting via the Broadcasting Act 2009.

It was said the committee would be involved in appointing people to state boards of BAI, RTE, TG4. (Something in process at the moment Four new nominees for the RTÉ Board and BAI 2014 Senator Terry Brennan "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." )

Broadcasting Act 2009.

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.

Michael Martin called it a radical initiative, not so radical, Minister still free to do what s/he likes, it possibly only means he cannot act so quickly.

although the listing of the State board appointments under the Department Communications, Marine and Natural Resources started during the previous government to that.

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.

Department Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Recent parliamentary questions to each department state board appointments including the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Appointments since 2 June 2011 - Qualifications/Experience of Appointees
Emma Goltz - A patron of the Arts and company director.
Jane Dillon Byrne - A former member of the Arts Council; she currently serves on the board of the Pavilion Theatre
Sheila O'Regan - A museum curator, radio producer and presenter and historian.
John McNulty - Businessman active in local cultural, sporting and language initiatives.

IMMA still doesn't list Sheila O'Regan as a board member even though she was appointed on the September 12th the same day as John McNulty.

although it doesn't make the distinction of which Minister made the appointments, compare to July 2014 list.

Studies
State Boards in Ireland 2012 Challenges for the future Institute of Directors in Ireland
The institute of Directors surveyed 45 of its members who sit on state boards in Febraury-March 2012 a year after the policy to advertise was announced.
Advertising is one thing; however, the process of selection and appointment must be transparent
Unconvinced yet that the decision to advertise is genuinely about improving transparency

and they also did a poll of how people came to know of the vacant positions which was mostly either 'word of mouth' or contact from the Minister or Department.

State boards performing well, but appointment process and relevant skills need to be addressed.

Public Appointments: Options for Reform July 2012 by Paula Clancy and Nat O’Connor TASC Think-tank for Action on Social Change.

Which looks at three 'Models for Reform of Appointment'.

Model A - Transparency
Model B – Transparency with Oversight
Model C – Independent Public Appointments

and recommended applying all three where appropiate.

Promises made on reforming State board process Irish Times October 1st 2014 by Harry McGee who also note previous promises for change.

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White TD when asked 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.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Ministers announcing new regulations we can't read.



Which prompted the Thejournal.ie article Banned: Texting while driving now ‘completely prohibited’ April 11th 2014 and the Irish Times article Drivers caught on mobiles to face €1,000 fine April 12th 2014.

New road safety regulations come into effect today which mean anyone caught texting or “accessing information” on their phones will face a mandatory court appearance and a fine of up to €1,000 for a first offence.

The media and some others have really indulged in hysteria over this, leading some to think that this would prevent people from even answering their phones or using SatNav or Taxi drivers using hailing apps. On The Last Word with Matt Cooper (at 47 minutes) with guest Anton Savage did a piece on it without having read the regulation. I emailed the show I asked him to send me a link to the regulation he was discussing, no reply I asked Anton Savage to send it to me and he sent me a link to the Irish Times article, although the text of the regulation was available had had got it off the dept earlier that day.

The Department of Transport then complains about "misleading coverage".

How is this new?
Legislation already in place makes it an offence to HOLD a mobile phone while driving.
Before now, the legislation has not applied to mobile phones NOT being held.

What do they NOT do?
Contrary to some misleading media reports, they do not make it an offence to speak via a
hands-free device. Nor do they make it an offence to touch a button on a hand-free device in
order to answer a phone call.

So we have a picture of the regulation on a piece of paper on a desk, thanks Leo, no detail, they didn't release the text till about 5 days later, and then they complained about misleading media coverage.

The problem it takes a few days, for some unknown reason, for the regulation to be published on the Office of the Attorney General's Statute Book website.

Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar mentioned in speech some actions he was going to take including to deal with "Distraction by using mobile phones while driving", Speech by Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar at the Road Safety Authority International Conference on Driver Distraction in Dublin Castle on Thursday 20th March

There is no new law on "accessing information" the only place I could find that phrase was in General Scheme Of Road Traffic Bill 2012, Head 8 that was never implemented at the time.

Head 8 Amendment of section 3 of the Act of 2006 –Prohibiting keypad usage on a hands-free mobile phone while driving

Provide That:

A person shall not use or handle the keypad of a hands-free mobile phone for the purposes of texting or accessing information while driving a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place.

The above offence does not apply to the use by a driver of a hands free mobile phone car kit while driving. Evidence suggests that a large percentage of drivers who use hands-free devices are accessing the keypad of the phones to text and access information while driving. This new head is to prohibit this practice particularly as the technology for voice controlled activation of the keypad or voice controlled commands is rapidly advancing. AGS are anxious to prohibit the practice of texting while driving as it is very dangerous and is a considerable distraction to the driver. The new offence will be covered by the same penalty as the existing mobile phone use penalty.
Here is the Statutory Instrument Road Traffic Act 2006 (Restriction On Use Of Mobile Phones) Regulations 2014.

A person shall not while driving a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place—

(a) send a text message, or

(b) read a text message,

from a mobile phone.

The law was to come into force on May 1st.

The TheJournal.ie had another article on May 1st Texting while driving is BANNED from today., that was again wrong because it was based on the original, I think (I cannot find the original version) that they corrected their article on texting while driving and removed the 'accessing information is illegal' line,

The Irish Times also wrote an article on May 1st Drivers caught on mobiles now face increased fine of €1,000 which also repeated the erroneous “accessing information” line.

Hailo, the taxi app company confirmed with the department that the new rules do not afect the use of the Hailo app and posted common-sense advice.

1. Always have your device secured in a hands free cradle when driving.

2. Always pull in at a safe location if you need to access any further information from your device.

The Gardai posted an advisory on penalties for testing while driving when the law came into force.

Solicitor Rossa McMahon wrote a blog post Hanging on the telephone – has anyone got it right on the new ban on text driving? where he thought the Minister of Transport's note which attempted to clear up the confusion was also confused. In September he followed up on the law to try and clear up the issue of penalties for texting while driving.

Then Paschal Donohue is appointed Minister for Transport and does it again. With this tweet



PS
TDs discussing legislation that hasn't been published yet.

Gavin Sheridan pointed out


Pre-legislative Scrutiny was one of the government's key reforms.

Draft's of Bills or Heads of Bills are often published before the full bill is officially published, but now we have TDs discussing the Heads of Bills in the Dail and Committees before it has been published.

Links

http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/new-law-sees-up-to-1000-fine-for-mobile-phone-use-while-driving-627697.html

http://www.reddit.com/r/ireland/comments/24fyfg/drivers_caught_on_mobiles_face_increased_fine_of/

http://www.thejournal.ie/texting-driving-varadkar-1411046-Apr2014/

http://www.thejournal.ie/texting-driving-google-glass-1440995-May2014/?utm_source=twitter_self

http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=90193816

http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=90193563

http://www.garda.ie/Controller.aspx?Page=13186

https://twitter.com/lostexpectation/status/461930595493638144 thejournal corrected their article on texting while driving http://bit.ly/1milLc9 removed 'accesing information is illegal' line, now IT ?

https://hailocab.com/ireland/drivers/blog/2014/04/24/New%20Regulations%20on%20Phones%20in%20Vehicles

https://twitter.com/rossamcmahon/status/461810795035525120

http://aclatterofthelaw.com/2014/09/15/penalties-for-text-driving/

http://aclatterofthelaw.com/2014/04/30/hanging-on-the-telephone/

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/drivers-face-fines-and-points-as-law-on-texting-tightened-up-29639302.html

http://www.dailyedge.ie/varadkar-cup-texting-driving-1534075-Jun2014/

there was a 2010 heads of bill that referred to accessing information http://www.transport.ie/upload/general/13690-GENERAL_SCHEME_OF_ROAD_TRAFFIC_BILL_2012-0.DOC

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/drivers-caught-on-mobiles-face-increased-fine-of-1-000-from-today-1.1780046