Seanad debates

Tuesday, 5 March 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


1:00 pm

Photo of Fintan WarfieldFintan Warfield (Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Today, news has broken that Terence O'Rourke is set to be named as the new chair of the RTÉ board. I rise to express my frustration that there is still no chairperson of the Arts Council. On Friday, 1 December 2023, it was reported that the former chairperson, Kevin Rafter, would step down as chair of the Arts Council. He was a very good chair of the council over the past four years. His final meeting was on 14 December. I am sure the Department was aware of his departure well in advance of the public announcement. It is now March 2024 and there is no chairperson of the Arts Council, a State agency with a budget of €130 million. Members are aware that the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin, has repeatedly stated that her relationship is with the chair. That begs the question as to whether there is a threat to the corporate governance of the bodies, organisations or agencies under her remit that are without a chair. Are those organisations experiencing the same level of poor communication we have seen in the relationship between RTÉ and the Department? Why has the Arts Council been without a chairperson for so long? Why are there so many vacancies on the boards of the national cultural institutions? According to a response issued on 31 January to my colleague, Deputy Ó Snodaigh, there are 31 board vacancies. Three other chairperson positions are vacant on boards that fall under the remit of the Minister, Deputy Catherine Martin. I hope that does not point to indecision or organisational paralysis in the Department or by the Minister. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for culture to the House to make a statement on appointments to State boards in order to avoid a situation of corporate governance in free fall.


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