Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Social Protection

Engagement with Chairperson Designate of Pobal

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I thank Ms Mannion. One of the things we are all finding across the country is the challenges with funding models as a direct result of the pandemic. I know Pobal has to make sure that the projects it is supporting are sustainable in the long term. We are in a very unique circumstance at the moment and it is important that we would ensure there is a certain amount of flexibility during the current climate. The opportunities to fundraise for community organisations are not there at the moment. There are issues in regard to the sustainability of some organisations in the short term. It is important that when assessments are done, they are not purely being done based on the here and now, which, as I said, is very unique, but that we look at the broader sustainability of these initiatives going forward.

One other point that I would like Ms Mannion to take away is in a broader area, and it is in regard to the level of female participation on public boards. Ms Mannion is sadly in a relatively unique position in that she has been a member of a public board, not just in Pobal but also the county development board in Offaly. That will give her a unique perspective in terms of the challenges across the midlands counties in particular. We need to do more to encourage women to apply for State boards. Ms Mannion is in an even more unique club in being a chair of a public board as there is only a small handful of women in that particular role. As I said as Minister and as a member of this committee, it would be great to be in a situation where the Minister of the day is forced to appoint a man to a State board in order to meet the 40% threshold. That is what we should strive to achieve right across the board in order to have a mix of gender. We also need a mix of background. If we look at many State boards across the country, many of them are dominated by people from Dublin or the hinterland of Dublin, and people have a very different mindset than we see in the rest of the country. It is important to get that regional balance. I hope Ms Mannion can engage with colleagues and use her role to encourage more women and more people from regional locations, with regional perspectives, to apply for appointment to State boards and to act as chair.


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