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Press Release - Minister Fitzgerald announces members designate for the board of the new Child and Family Agency

  • 20 Sep 2013

Department of Children and Youth Affairs Press Release

Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children & Youth Affairs has announced the appointment of members to the Board of the Family Support Agency, which will become the Board of new Child and Family Agency on its establishment.

The Child and Family Agency Bill has completed second stage in the Dáil and Committee Stage will be taken by the select committee on Health and Children in October.

The first meeting of this new board took place today at the Family Support Agency offices at Earlsfort Terrace.

Minister Fitzgerald stated: “I am delighted with the calibre of the board membership and the wealth of knowledge and expertise which they bring to this project which is a key priority for the Government. The Child and Family Agency represents the single greatest transformation in children and family services in the history of the state. It is therefore only appropriate that the membership of this new Board brings together highly qualified and experienced members with a range of high-level skills, not just in the areas of child protection, family support and education welfare, but also in critical areas of public sector reform, corporate governance, financial management, communications and change management.”

In addition to Chairperson Norah Gibbons, the Minister has today named six further members: Mr. PJ Fitzpatrick, Ms. Gary Joyce, Mr. Noel Kelly, Ms. Sylda Langford, Ms. Ita Mangan, Mr. Rory O’Ferrall and Dr. Noelle Spring.

Commenting on the appointment of Ms, Norah Gibbons as Chairperson, the Minister stated that “the Board of the new Agency which will be led by Norah Gibbons, a woman steeped in experience of family support, child protection and the voluntary world, who will be a true champion for reform of children’s services.”

“Along with CEO-designate Gordon Jeyes and his staff, I am confident that the team we have put in place will deliver on our shared goal – that is the development of a world class service for children and families in Ireland.”

Minister Fitzgerald added “I would like to express my appreciation for the excellent work carried out by the outgoing Board of the Family Support Agency and to acknowledge the very important work of the Agency since its establishment in 2003 in providing supports at local level to families and communities.  

The Family Support Agency is one of a number of agencies being incorporated into the new Child & Family Agency. Pending the legal establishment of the Child and Family Agency the existing statutory functions of the Board of the Family Support Agency need to remain in place. The Board will also be required to provide oversight and direction for the organisational preparations in respect of the new Agency. In addition to the Family Support Agency, existing HSE child and family services and the National Educational Welfare Board will be incorporated in the new Child and Family agency on its establishment.

The establishment of the Child and Family Agency represents one of the largest and most ambitious areas of public sector reform currently underway in the State involving, as it does, over 4,000 employees and a current budget of over €570 million across existing agencies. Work is well underway on the establishment of the new Agency. The legislation is comprehensive and provides for the subsuming of functions from three separate agencies and reassigns, under law, the sensitive and complex legal responsibilities which arise in relation to the care and protection of children and the promotion of their welfare.


Ms. Norah Gibbons - Chairperson
Worked for many years in social work in both the statutory and voluntary sector in the UK and Ireland. Director of Advocacy of Barnardos from 2005 to 2012. Member of the Commission to Inquire into Child abuse 2000-2009. Chaired the Confidential Committee of the Commission from 2000 to 2005, and the Roscommon Child Abuse Inquiry in 2009. Co-chaired the Independent Child Death Review Group with Dr Geoffrey Shannon from 2011 to 2012. Currently a member of Acknowledge Forum of Historical Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland. Formerly the Chairperson of the board of Action Alcohol Ireland and was a member of the Taskforce on the Establishment of the Child and Family Agency

Mr. PJ Fitzpatrick
Partner with Praesta Ltd which provides leadership development and executive coaching.  Previously he was the Independent Chair of the Implementation Body for the Public Service Pay and Modernisation (Croke Park) Agreement 2010–2013. Former Interim Financial Services Ombudsman. Non-executive director of the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service. He was also a non-executive director of the Commission for Victims of Crime and the Health Service Executive.  First Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Courts Service and previously Chief Executive of the Eastern Regional Health Board. Also previously held a number of senior management positions in three other former health boards.  

Ms. Gary Joyce
Managing Partner of Genesis, a leading Irish management consultancy that specialises in strategy and brand-led change. Prior to co-founding Genesis, she was a founding partner of Dimension, Ireland’s first integrated marketing communications company.  Former Chairperson of ACC Bank and currently a member of the Governing Authority of Dublin City University.  Member of the board of Dublin Bus and a number of private and not-for-profit organisations. Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants and Advisors and the Marketing Institute of Ireland.  

Mr. Noel Kelly
Manager of the Preparing for Life programme delivered by Northside Partnership. Preparing for Life is an evidence based early intervention programme funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Atlantic Philanthropy. Very considerable previous experience as a primary school teacher and a Home School Community Liaison Coordinator. Previously, co-ordinator of an early school leavers initiative; and education co-ordinator for the Northside Partnership.

Ms. Sylda Langford
Former Director General of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in the Department of Health and Children. Prior to this, she was an Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Justice and Law Reform. She has had extensive experience in policy and legislative work across a broad range of government areas and has a professional background in social policy and social work. Chair of the Citizens Information Board and was a member of Task Force on the Establishment of the Child and Family Agency.

Ms. Ita Mangan
A barrister with considerable experience in public policy. Chair of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare. Lecturer in European Social Policy and a Legal and Social Affairs consultant in both the voluntary and statutory fields.  She has extensive experience in governance and policy gained through membership of a number of Boards and Committees, including in particular, the Residential Institutions Redress Review Committee and the Commission of Investigation into clerical abuse in Dublin Archdiocese and Diocese of Cloyne.

Mr. Rory O’Ferrall
Partner and Head of Corporate Recovery, Deloitte & Touche up to 2008; Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland; Fellow of the Association of Business Recovery Professionals and member of the Irish Society of Insolvency Practitioners. Public Interest Director Irish Nationwide Building Society, 2009 – 2011; Director Quinn Group (ROI) Limited April 2011 – July 2012; Director Quinn International Property Management Ltd and a number of companies within the 'Property' Group April 2011 – present. Former President of the National Youth Council.  Considerable expertise in strategy, forward planning, change management and reorganisations.         

Dr. Noelle Spring
Development Director with the Katharine Howard Foundation (KHF). Prior to working with KHF, she worked as a Project Officer with the Combat Poverty Agency and a Community Worker and Social Worker with the HSE (formerly the Eastern Health Board). This latter role included working with the St.Helena's Community and Family Resource Centre in Finglas South. A graduate of Social Work from Trinity College Dublin, she was conferred in 2011 with a Doctorate in Education by St. Patrick’s College of Education in Dublin. Her doctoral thesis focused on absenteeism at Primary School Level in an area designated as disadvantaged.        

Issued by the Press and Communications Office at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs,
Tel: 01 6473019