The National Parents Council Post Primary (NPCPP) which had its recognition revoked over spending and governance concerns, has officially appointed a new director to its board — two years after she started in the role.
t comes after an audit of the council questioned how the organisation was run and queried why two directors had not been registered with the Companies Registration Office (CRO).
Documents lodged with the CRO earlier this month show Liz Ryan was registered as a director on the council’s board on March 10. However, the effective date of her appointment has been backdated to January 2021, according to the documents.
Five other directors were registered in similar roles between Ms Ryan effectively starting and being registered as a director.
The council has declined to explain why Ms Ryan was not registered in 2021.
Auditors had also queried why another director, Mary Lillis, had been listed as a board member on NPCPP’s website but was not registered with the CRO. Her name has since been removed from the website.
NPCPP president Mai Fanning and communications director Paul Rolston declined to address questions on the matter last week when contacted by the Sunday Independent.
Other similar issues were flagged as a matter of concern in an independent audit of the council conducted by Governance Ireland.
As well as questioning the use of about €220,000 in state funds, the audit queried how the council drafted a new constitution in 2021 that was not registered with the CRO.
The audit said “there is ambiguity with regard to which constitution is the operable version, the 2019 version registered with the CRO or a 2021 version available from the NPCPP’s website.”
This was a concern because of significant differences between the constitutions regarding the board’s make-up and who can make nominations to it.
Auditors said an assessment of governance structures revealed “very little by the way of best practice” and “there appears to be a lack of confidence in the current board’s oversight and governance”.
They said the changes meant the council’s board “as currently composed, could not be said to be a body fully representing the entire post-primary schools parents associations network”.
Governance Ireland also flagged up how three board members had served and exceeded a maximum tenure of two terms on the board.
Meanwhile, they were unable to determine if any board member had a child in the secondary-school system, as required.
The Department of Education removed its recognition of the council after auditors said the NPCPP failed to cooperate with their review.
The department also cut funding to the council and has asked an unrelated representative body, the National Parents Council Primary, to assume its duties in the interim.
Ms Fanning’s own role in the governance and spending at the council has been drawn into question after the financial review queried payments worth €6,499 to her former partner.
Some of the payments to John Ironside, a photographer based in Co Wexford, related to work producing and printing reports on behalf of the council.
Ms Fanning and Mr Ironside have a number of children together and previously ran a travel company before the business was dissolved in 2010.
Records seen by the Sunday Independent show she was previously addressed as “Ms Mai Fanning Ironside” in the meeting minutes of another school council she was part of 10 years ago.
Ms Fanning was asked about the nature of Mr Ironside’s work for NPCPP last week and how his services were procured by the council, but she declined to address the questions.
She pointed to a statement published online by the council two weeks ago and said she believed it addressed concerns raised in the audit.
The NPCPP has rejected the audit’s findings.
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