These are the Board Meeting minutes from 12 December 2014
We are happy to publish the minutes of our Board meetings so that Board activities and decisions are accountable. There is always a delay between the meeting held and the publication of the minutes. This is because the minutes must be approved before they can be published. Minutes are approved at the meeting after the meeting they are a record off. For example, if a Board meeting is held in March and the next meeting is held in April, the minutes of the March meeting will not be on the website until after the April meeting.
|David O’Callaghan, Chair
There were no apologies.
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 6th November
The minutes of the meeting of 6th November were agreed. Proposed by Austin Currie, seconded by Frances Harrington.
3. Matters Arising from the minutes not on agenda
(a) Towards Healing
Clarification has been sought in relation to an invoice received from Towards Healing.
(b) External Review
The review has been contracted to Mazars. They will meet with members of the Board as part of the review.
(c) Meeting of Chair with Minister
The Chair gave a verbal report of this meeting with the Minister. Issues discussed included the vacancy of the Board, the expansion of the services covered by the scheme and the review of the legislation to be undertaken by the Minister. The processing of applications was also discussed and the Minister was informed of the external review taking place.
(d) Customer Charter
The Board noted its full support for a customer charter in the context of the welfare of both staff and customers. However, David Lane and Frances still have some issues with the phrasing of the document. David asked that members of the Board would provide him with comments and observations on his proposals in relation to the document and it was agreed to return to it at the next meeting.
(e) New Premises
It was confirmed that we have had to pull out of the proposed lease of the premises on Talbot Street due to ongoing delays which were beyond our control. The current accommodation is not suitable and the lease on the property is up in 2016. The OPW have been approached to see if they have any available premises but we have heard nothing back yet.
(e) Recruitment of survivors by PAS
It was agreed that we should await the findings of the Mazaars report before returning to consider this issue.
(f) Draft Accounts 2013
The executive clarified that they are still waiting to hear back from the C&AG on the accounts.
4. Report on Applications
A discussion took place on the latest statistics to the end of November which were circulated to the Board. The improvements in the speed of processing applications and payments was noted.
The Board requested some anonymised case histories be provided to provide a human aspect to the figures and it is planned that such cases will form part of the Annual Report. In addition, a new section, on the experiences of applicants, has been added to the website and will be updated from time to time.
5. CEO Report
The CEO work report had been circulated with the Board papers. The CEO also gave a verbal update. The following discussions and decisions arose:
- Two further outreach meetings had been held since the last Board meeting. Frances Harrington had participated in one of these and reported that she found it very good. The Board asked that they be informed of any future outreach meetings so that other members could attend if they wished
- The matter of staff wellbeing was discussed and the high level of repeat calls to the office was noted as a particular source of stress and pressure
- The report on current agency staff was noted. It was agreed that it was necessary to maintain these levels in order to continue the current pace of processing applications
- A letter from the Department has indicated that we can expect to recieve a further €12 million between now and 2018
- The dental project carried out by the HSE is now completed. It provides some useful insights into the dental condition and perceptions of the 55 people who participated and who have now been fast tracked to treatment
- The potential of the HSE processing payments for health services on our behalf is being explored, as is working with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
6. Report of Audit & Risk Sub-Committee
The latest expenditure figures to the end of November were noted by the Board. An operational budget for 2015 had been prepared for the Board. This will be considered by the Audit and Risk Committee at its next meeting and then by the Board.
7. Proposal on Expanded Services
As agreed at the last meeting, the CEO had prepared a paper on the proposed expansion of services and the implications of their expansion. In her view, we should aim to expand services but within the current range of approved services in order to avoid the necessity for amendments to the legislation, since this would be both time consuming and uncertain. The Board agreed that it needed more time to consider the proposals and they will be revisited at the next meeting.
The paper prepared for the previous Board meeting had been circulated again with the Board papers and was considered. In this context there was discussion on the role of board members in the application process. It was agreed that there should be no direct involvement as this would be contrary to good governance.
There was also discussion about a concern, raised by the Department of Education and Skills, about the published minutes of the meeting held in October which seemed to imply that the Board was approving payments to applicants of over €25,000. It was clarified that the Board was not approving payments but, as a matter of financial probity and oversight, wished to be informed of payments of this magnitude.
The issue of governance is one that will be kept under review by the Board on an ongoing basis.
Representatives of VOTES have requested a meeting with the Chair and this will also be attended by Frances.
10. Parliamentary questions
There have been no recent PQs, although it noted that there had been a question relating to the Whispering Hope Centre.
There were no new contracts during this time period.
The Board agreed to review the new draft Performance Delivery Agreement with the Department of Education and Skills at its next meeting.
The Board also thanked the CEO for arranging a presentation for them on the application process the previous evening by the staff members. It was agreed that this had been very useful and that it should in future occur at least twice per year.
13. Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Board will be held on Thursday 22nd January 2015at 10.30 a.m. in the Department of Education and Skills.