Education Secretary Norma Foley says “no choice” but to withdraw recognition from the parents’ organization

Education Secretary Norma Foley has defended the withdrawal of official recognition by the National Parents Council Post Primary (NPCPP), saying “there was no other option”.

The Department of Education made the decision last month and said the organization declined to participate in an independent financial and governance review.

Ms Foley said the decision was “not taken lightly” and that the NPCPP had been given “considerable latitude” over six or seven months to work with the process. They had “resolutely” refused to get involved.

The NPCPP was the recognized voice of parents of pupils in secondary education and was largely funded by the department – ​​receiving €205,000 in 2019.

Ms Foley said there is “an obligation to ensure that all government funds are managed appropriately and to make herself available for an appropriate governance review”.

“I cannot understand why there was a lack of collaboration,” said the minister, who answered a series of questions on the subject at a meeting of the Oireachtas Education Committee convened to discuss 2023 spending estimates for her department.

She told Sinn Féin education spokesman Donnchadh O’Laoghaire that any organization receiving government funding must have oversight and “an audit does not slander any organization”.

She said it had been in contact with NPCPP since last May but they felt unable to address the review and after six months the decision was made to withdraw recognition.

“There was no other option,” she said.

Advisory firm Governance Ireland, hired following a public tender, carried out the review based on publicly available information, including from the Companies Registration Office. A final draft of his report was submitted by the evaluator to the NPCPP last month and Ms Foley said that “even at this point no comment has been made on the draft review”.

The minister said she had not seen the draft and the decision to revoke the recognition was made on the basis of non-participation by the NPCPP. She said she was waiting for the finished report.

Ms Foley was constantly questioned by the committee’s chairman, Fine Gael TD Paul Kehoe, who criticized a decision at a committee meeting in November to delay funding to the NPCPP.

At the time, Ms Foley said there were some outstanding issues to be resolved.

At today’s hearing, Mr Kehoe said he understood the organization had had governance issues but they had been overcome and he thought it was “bizarre” that funding would be withdrawn without the review being finally released.

He said it seemed “short-sighted” to withdraw funding and ask another body – the National Parents’ Council Primary – to represent the views of secondary school parents.

Mr Kehoe asked why the minister had not met with the NPCPP on the matter, and she replied that it was “not appropriate” for her to meet while an independent review was underway. Education Secretary Norma Foley says “no choice” but to withdraw recognition from the parents’ organization

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