Candidate CVs for Arts board roles are still kept secret
FRESH concerns have emerged about the transparency of appointments to State boards after the Government department at the centre of last year's cronyism affair refused to release the CVs of successful candidates.
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht's stance is at odds with other departments, which are willing to release CVs.
The CVs being kept under wraps include that of John McNulty, who was controversially appointed to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) shortly before his candidacy for the cultural and educational panel of the Seanad was announced.
Arts Minister Heather Humphreys faced claims she made the appointment at the urging of Fine Gael to boost his credentials for the Seanad, an accusation she denies.
Mr McNulty did not go through any publicly advertised process before being appointed to the IMMA board. He later resigned and withdrew his Seanad candidacy.
Efforts to secure a copy of the CVs of Mr McNulty and other candidates were rejected by the department, which cited exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act.
However, several other departments contacted by the Irish Independent had no difficulty releasing CVs of successful candidates, with minimal redactions to addresses and phone numbers.
The Department of Arts defended its decision and said its freedom of information decision-maker was not bound by other departments' decisions.
However, it represents a blow to Public Reform Minister Brendan Howlin's agenda.
In the wake of the McNulty affair, Mr Howlin introduced guidelines which will see State board members selected from a pool of people who apply to the Public Appointments Service.
Although many State board jobs were technically open to members of the public to apply for in the past, in reality only a small proportion were being filled in this way.
For example, of 97 positions which were open to the public on State boards under the Department of Environment between mid-2011 and the end of last year, just 35 were filled with people who applied or formally expressed an interest.
A further 103 State board appointments made by the department were not open to public appointments.
The Department of Arts last year hurriedly filled five vacancies on the board of the National Concert Hall without advertising the positions after a raft of resignations.
Most of those roles had previously been filled through a publicly advertised process.
A statement said: "These appointments were not made through a public recruitment process because of the need to make appointments as soon as possible to preserve the continuity of the board. The minister identified the new members on the basis of their expertise."