T4. Ms Ruane asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to outline what she has done to ensure gender balance and representation for disability groups on boards, given that she shares her concern about the lack of women in public bodies through the public appointments process, which will be discussed this Thursday and Friday at the North/South Inter-parliamentary Association. (AQT 3194/11-16)
I share the Member's concern and have done so for some time. When I went into the Department in 2011, less than 30% of those in the public appointments process were women. It has gone up to 36%, which, in my opinion, is still not good enough. I have met previous Commissioners for Public Appointments and asked them how to make the process more open and attractive, particularly to women and to people with disabilities. I continue to seek advice from the Commissioner for Public Appointments and others. If the Member or anyone else has any additional information, suggestions or advice as to how I can take that forward, I am open to hearing from them.
Gabhaim buíochas leis an Aire as an fhreagra sin. I thank the Minister for her answer and welcome the increase but note that we still need to do more. The Minister will be pleased to hear that the new Commissioner for Public Appointments will speak at the North/South Inter-parliamentary Association meeting. She is travelling to Dublin. We will be working with her, but will the Minister continue her efforts to ensure that we continue representation?
I absolutely will continue my efforts. Part of those efforts in the past, which I did not mention initially, was to change the way in which the application process happens and to encourage people to seek advice before they put in an application. I am working with the Commissioner for Public Appointments and other bodies to make that easy. I look forward to a report from that meeting and to receiving any advice that I can take to ensure that there is more openness and transparency and better representation on our public bodies.