The Honorary Secretary of PSI provides an update to the PSI membership after each Council meeting. The most recent Council updates can be viewed here.
The PSI Honorary Secretary for 2023 is Dr John Francis Leader.
The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) is a charitable company limited by guarantee. It is registered with the Charities Regulatory Authority, has a registered charity number (20016524), and is limited by guarantee as outlined under Part 18 of the Companies Act 2014. The PSI is also a registered charitable company (Number 110772) and has been granted charitable tax status under sections 207 and 2018 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (Charity NO CHY 7481). The PSI complies with charity and company law, such as submitting annual reports and compliance record forms. The Society strives for best practices in accountability and transparency and is always looking for ways to improve. In the near future, the PSI will move towards adopting the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) to build on our good practice in this area. The benefits will include maintaining and building our reputation and trust, our accountability and transparency, and best practice concerning compliance with charity law, trusteeship, and governance.
However, PSI Council and management want to meet more than the minimum requirements and standards related to charity and company law. For example, while it is acceptable to meet the minimum standards as outlined in documents such as the Charities Governance Code, the PSI strives for best practices within our profession, and we should model this in the management and governance of our charitable company. The PSI will move towards an even greater level of transparency and accountability by adopting the SORP (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy [CIPFA], 2019). SORP presents how charities should prepare annual accounts (Shupinski, 2021). Currently, SORP is not mandatory in Ireland, though we are encouraged to comply, and it is likely to be compulsory for larger companies very shortly (Shupinski, 2021). Many Irish charities have voluntarily adopted SORP to follow best practices and to demonstrate a commitment to the highest level of transparency and accountability (Shupinski, 2021). Importantly, it is also described as an opportunity to show very clearly the achievements of a charity.
Like the PSI’s constitution, there are objectives in the SORP. These include improving the quality of financial reporting, enhancing the relevance, comparability, and understanding of information presented in accounts, providing clarification, explanation, and interpretation of accounting standards and their application in the charity sector, and assisting those who are responsible for the preparation of the associated reported (CIPFA, 2019). The structure of SORP is modular; it has 29 chapters and 4 appendices, and 14 of the 29 chapters are considered core and must be referred to. Language is important in SORP; must, should and may are used with different implications (CIPFA, 2019).
The format of SORP accounts includes a trustee’s annual account, a statement of financial activities (SoFA), a statement of financial position (Balance Sheet), and notes to the account. The primary purpose of the trustees’ annual report is to ensure the charity is publicly accountable to its stakeholders. Trustees should outline the outputs (what has been done), the outcomes (achievements), and the impact (difference made) (Shupinski, 2021). We also need to link the activities and achievements to sources of income and expenditure. It is a qualitative review, and the contents include objectives/activities, achievements/performance, financial reviews, plans for future periods, structure/governance/management, reference/administration details, exemptions from disclosure, funds held as custodian trustee on behalf of others, directors’ responsibilities, and a risk management statement (Shupinski, 2021). Regarding the statement of financial activities (SoFA), the main difference between the accounts of a charity and that of a commercial entity is the format for disclosing incoming and outgoing resources between restricted and unrestricted funds and the analysis of movements on such fund balances in the charity’s accounts (The Wheel, 2018).
Moving towards a better practice of accountability and transparency concerning governance and finance is important. As charity trustees have legal duties, we must comply with our charity’s governing document, manage our charity's resources responsibly, and ensure our charity is carrying out its charitable purposes for public benefit. We must act in the best interest of our charity, with reasonable skill and care, be accountable and we must comply with the law (Charities Regulator, 2021).
It is important, however, to make an informed decision. The board of a company will need to be provided with an overview of SORP so that they are knowledgeable of this practice. Before applying the charity SORP, it is recommended that we identify and know the following: who is the intended user, who prepares accounts/use trustee reports, the objectives, scope, and date of commencement of SORP, the transactional arrangements/choice of accounts and preparation methods, and how to use the modular SORP (CIPFA, 2019). We also need to know our income sources – grants, donations, services in kind, expenditure sources, update/create accounting policies, and additional notes (CIPFA, 2019). We will need to know about fund accounting and the difference between unrestricted and restricted avenues (CIPFA, 2019). We will need meetings with our accountants to explore this area further.
We need to review our current reporting practices. For example, in our annual reports we have shown a consistent structure and presentation over the last 10 years, we cover many of the areas requested to be SORP compliant. Fortunately for the PSI, the good reporting over the past years might have a positive impact on the workload of transitioning to SOPR as it might be more of a presentation issue that could be worked on by multiple stakeholders such as the Council, management team, and other services including our accountants. Adopting SORP might have implications for other documents we have such as our constitution, governance handbook, and risk register. So, we will need to review how SORP fits into these. A good example as recommended by Andrea Shupinski, a chartered accountant, finance director, and governance specialist, is the Children’s Rights Alliance Impact Report 2019, directors’ report, and financial statements for the year ending 31 December 2019.
The main benefits of adopting SORP relate to trust and reputation, governance, risk, and financial accountability. Senan Turnbull (2021), who is a community, voluntary, and charities governance and development specialist with The Wheel, outlines that public trust and confidence in charities is low, at around 50%. However, he advises that those charities that show and maintain strong engagement and transparency with stakeholders tend to have higher trust and confidence. Adopting SORP may help meet this expectation from members. Grant Thornton, in February 2020, also outlined that in the year to 31 December 2018, 686 individual concerns were raised regarding charities, and around 83% of these concerns were in respect of governance issues, financial control and transparency, and the legitimacy of a charity. I understand these concerns could be interpreted as risk categories, and by adopting SOPR perhaps these areas of risk could be reduced.
Joe Houghton, who provides continuing professional development to charitable bodies in the area of risk management on behalf of The Wheel, outlines that there are five key areas of non-profit risk. We need to be able to demonstrate impact, maintain and build a reputation, meet our compliance obligations, achieve financial sustainability, and outline our specific risks (Houghton, 2021). Our governance team must be able to outline clear aims as they relate to our mission and values, how we will meet them, and why this is important. We need to be transparent, have and build trust, and also show traceability (Houghton, 2021).
In relation to compliance obligations, we must meet the charity code of governance, be knowledgeable of GDPR, publish audited accounts, keep our staff up to date with professional development, engage legal expertise, and invite independent bodies to audit our operations (Houghton, 2021). We need to show members that we are financially sustainable and that we have appropriate insurance in place, with different options and avenues of funding. Importantly we also need to have our risk register active and up to date (Houghton, 2021). SORP is not just about financial reporting, it can positively impact many of the areas of risk and keep us in line with regards to our governance and strategic plan. As secretary, I am particularly interested in how we might adapt our executive reports and the improvements that can be made in these areas such as our society review. By adopting SOPR we could show much of this. Senan Turnbull outlines that charities can restore and improve trust by complying with the charity’s governance code, adopting SORP, improving the skills of trustees, and communicating better (Turnbull, 2021). The introduction of these accounting, governance, and reporting regulations will increase transparency, incentivise best governance practices and enable charities to restore and build trust (Turnball, 2021).
In 2022, the PSI will report on our compliance with the Charities Governance Code, just as we did in 2021. We need to submit our annual report to the Charities Regulator 10 months after the financial year-end date, which is October 31 and this falls under Section 14(1) (i) of the Charities Act 2009 (Charities Regulator, 2018). The Charities Governance Code attempts to encourage and facilitate better administration and management of charitable organisations. They are the minimum standards. As part of the Code, the Charities Regulator (2018) asks that we declare whether we are fully or partially compliant or have not yet started implementing the Code. We will be asked about the activities that we completed and how they link to our objectives and benefit the public, who were the beneficiaries. We are asked to describe our financial position, our income and expenditure, and any donations. We also need to provide documents such as our annual accounts and report.
Six principles are outlined in the Charities Regulator Governance Code (2018), we need to show how we are advancing our charitable purpose, behaving with integrity, leading people, exercising control, working effectively, and being accountable and transparent. In the Code, good governance is described as putting in place systems and processes to ensure that the charity achieves its charitable objectives with integrity and is managed in effective, efficient, and transparent ways (Charities Regulator, 2018). We are publicly visible on the register, and we have provided an overview of our purpose and objectives, our finance and activities, and our people. By adopting SORP in advance of it being compulsory for certain sized charitable companies we show our desire and commitment for best practice in this area; it also enables us to meet many of these tasks required across charity and company law.
To find out more, sign into the PSI website (www.psychologicalsociety.ie), click Council, and then Governance.
PSI Honorary (Company) Secretary
Honorary (Company) Secretary Update
Report from Dr Andrew Kennedy
In this update, I will provide an overview of our 9th council meeting of the year. Our 10th meeting takes place in December. We did not have a meeting in November due to the Annual Conference.
Recent agenda items to share that have been before the council on our 9th meeting of the year on the 24th of October 2022;
Declarations of Interest, Minutes of Meeting 8, September 2022, Matters arising from Minutes
CEO Report; Membership Figures update, Membership feedback, Divisions and Special Interest Groups Activity Report, Risk register top 5, Property purchase update, Strategic Plan 2023 – 2025
International Liaison Officer update
Items for decision and action; Policies, Guidelines and Papers Report, Risk Management Committee ToRs, Undergraduate Accreditation Committee on the application to PSI for accreditation of 3 courses at Mary Immaculate College, Accreditation of MSc in Work and Organisational Psychology for University of Limerick, Accreditation of Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology, Mary Immaculate College, Appeal of Graduate Membership Application, Fellowship Application, Good Practice Guidelines for working with Transgender people, Funding of Trainee EPs
Items for discussion; PAC work on accreditation, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the PSI
Items for noting; Resources Group Update, DCU report
Looking Forward, to 2023
This will be my final IP Update as the Honorary Company Secretary of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI). I am stepping down from this officer role passing on the responsibility to another council member for January 2023. With this, I step into a handover role to support knowledge transfer with the new secretary as I will continue to be a general council member having been re-elected in 2022. I also relinquish my placement on the Governance and Risk Management Group, and from the Resources Committee which I chaired for 2022.
It has been a privilege and honour to serve in this role and to be so involved in the governance of the society and I recommend other council members to take on this role to gain a more thorough insight into the workings of the society.
On the other hand, I hope, with the reduction in duties and commitments associated with the role of secretary I might be able to direct more of my time to other projects that are important to me, and to the council, such as the Mentoring Scheme and Development Fund, which received great interest from members who attended the Conference. Thank you for coming and speaking with me.
Honorary (Company) Secretary Update
Report from Dr Andrew Kennedy
In this update, I will provide an overview of our fifth and sixth council meetings of the year. I would also like to provide an introduction to the tasks associated with the role of the Secretary and the work of the Governance Team in the build-up to the PSI Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Recent appropriate agenda items to share that have been before the council on our 5th meeting of the year on the 30th of May 2022;
CEO Report; Membership Figures update, Personnel changes at PSI: appointment of Rachel Cooney as Division Liaison and Committee Coordinator, Membership feedback, Divisions and Special Interest Groups Activity Report, Research and Policy Report, Risk register top 5, Property purchase update.
Items for decision and action; Resources Committee Update - Quarterly accounts - 2021 Audit, Increasing the allocation of Learning Credits for the Members and Chair of MQCC, Supplementary Budget for PSI Conference 2022, Educational Division new draft accreditation standards, Assisted Decision Making Capacity Assessment Guidelines Working Group, Joint submission from PSI, IASLT and AOTI in response to the Autism Innovation Strategy, Governance Handbook Review.
Items for discussion; Motions and Items for Discussion from Constitutional Review, Council Self-Assessment Skills Audit, LGBT Ireland letter, Pre-budget submission, EFPA, IUPSY and GPA representation, Letter re Ethical Dilemma in Professional Practice.
Items for noting; PAC update, Notice to Council members of nominations for PSI President-Elect, C&E report.
Recent appropriate agenda items to share that have been before the council on our 6th council meeting of the year on the 1st of July 2022;
CEO Report; Membership Figures update, Membership feedback, Divisions and Special Interest Groups Activity Report, Research and Policy Activity Report, Risk register top 5, Property purchase update, Strategic Plan 2023 – 2025.
Items for decision and action; Constitutional Review: Motions for AGM 2022, Good Governance Awards, Notice of Nomination for President-Elect, Educational Division new draft accreditation standards, Database of placement opportunities - Helping Diversity and inclusion into our field, new members of MQCC.
Items for discussion; Accreditation Report, Supervision as an 'Area of Practice' on PSI's 'Find a Psychologist’ facility, Mutual recognition with the UK of professional training qualifications.
Items for noting; MQCC PSI Document query, Global Psychology Alliance Resolution
AOB; Emails responses
I am providing the membership with an update regarding the activity of the Secretary and the Governance Team as members are quite active at this time of year with the approaching AGM.
The Governance Team comprises the following:
This group forms the Governance Team of the Society, along with the Chief Executive Officer (Shane Kelly) in an ex officio capacity. This group is a sub-group of the Council and can be convened by its members or the Chief Executive Officer, if required, from time to time to discuss matters of strategic importance or to take decisions on behalf of the Council which may require an urgent response. It is not intended to replace Council but to augment it as the need arises.
Its role is to:
The Governance Team takes their job seriously. Council Members who are Officers of Council are also Company Directors and have wide and diverse responsibilities. Their duties arise primarily from the following sources:
At this time of the year, the governance team have much of their attention on the AGM and the role our Constitution plays in guiding us in what we need to do and the tasks that need to be completed.
As outlined in common law, we must exercise our powers in good faith and in the best interest of the company as a whole. Personal interests, the views of certain sections or any outside interests should be put aside.
The governance teams’ statutory duties at this time include:
PSI Staff and the Governance Team are working together to achieve the above and to deliver a smooth running of the AGM and the tasks related to it in the build-up, during, and after phases.
One of the first key tasks of the secretary leading up to the AGM is making the council aware that we need to elect a President-Elect for 2023. The secretary keeps the Governance Team updated on the progress of this and I am happy to report that this has been completed. We are excited to announce our future President of 2024 which we will do so at the AGM.
Following this, the attention of the Secretary moves towards publishing the notice of the AGM and calling for nominations for council and the submission of motions. Both of these tasks have now been completed. Nominees and motions are reviewed by the Governance Team, this can involve checking admin related to nomination, membership status, checking terms of current/past office holding, and ensuring equal access of self-representation to members through strict guidelines (e.g., personal bio length). Motions are generally submitted concerning changing the constitution in some way but members may also submit motions related to programmes of work that they wish the council to complete (e.g., advancing inclusion and diversity).
In addition to the Governance Team, the council also approved council members and PSI staff to form a Constitutional Working Group to review the Constitution. The members of this include;
The constitution working group have identified areas within the constitution that they wish to put forward as motions at the AGM. Our solicitor has informed us that typos and formatting issues do not need to go before the AGM, council welcome this as good news going forward so that matters of importance to members might have greater representation timewise at the AGM. Some motions that will be put forward will include bringing the constitution in line with advances in technology, practice and GDPR and some will seek to improve good governance practices. The constitutional working group have also identified some areas of work for the council that will need to be completed over the coming year and for a decision on whether these pieces of work will then need to be submitted for inclusion in the constitution at the next AGM.
Hoping to see you at the AGM.
Honorary (Company) Secretary Update
Report from Dr Andrew Kennedy
In this update, I will provide an overview of our third and fourth council meetings of the year.
Recent appropriate agenda items to share that have been before the council on our 3rd meeting of the year on the 22nd of March 2022;
CEO Report; Membership figures update, Membership Feedback, Divisions and Special Interest Groups Activity Report, Risk Register top 5, Research and Policies Update (New), Property purchase update.
Items for decision and action; Leave for Council Members Policy, Procurement Policy, Panel members for courses, psychological support initiative for people affected by war in Ukraine, Open Letter from the Citizens Assembly on Drugs, Accreditation Criteria for a course, funding application.
Items for discussion; PSI Presidential Development Fund Update, Re-establishment of The PSI Mentoring Scheme, A Training and Competencies Framework, PSI Task Force on Climate, PSI’s Response to the War in Ukraine, Follow-Up from Boardmatch Training.
Items for noting; a SIG correspondence to the council.
Recent appropriate agenda items to share that have been before the council on our 4th council meeting of the year on the 28th of April 2022;
CEO Report; Membership Figures update, Membership feedback, Personnel changes at PSI: appointment of Rachel Cooney as General Administrator & Member Support, Divisions and Special Interest Groups Activity Report, Property purchase update, Procurement policy draft proposal, Risk Register top 5, full risk register review (ongoing), and Research and Policy Updates.
Items for decision and action; Knowledge and Skills Framework for Healthcare Professionals Working with the Older Person, Letter re Professional Practice issues, accreditation of course response, Derogation Proposal, Panel member for accreditation of a course.
Items for discussion; HSCP Meeting
Items for noting; None
Honorary (Company) Secretary Update
Report from Dr Andrew Kennedy
In this update, I will provide an overview of our first and second meeting of the year which took place on the 17th of January 2022 and 18th of February 2022.
I would also like to provide a brief introduction and overview of the PSI Resources Committee. I have been a member of the Resources Committee since taking on the role of Secretary in January 2021. For 2022, I have been tasked with chairing the Resources Committee. As Chair of the committee, my role is outlined in the Governance Handbook. The key responsibilities of the Chair are:
The current purpose of the Resources Committee is to oversee the resources: people and finance of the Society. While the Chief Executive Officer will have day-to-day responsibility for the people and financial management, the Committee will more specifically:
Membership Composition and Criteria
As members of this group should have an understanding of financial accounting and preparation of accounts as well as people and organisation best practices, the Resources Committee will likely always need to consider co-opting members with the required expertise. This is necessary as in our constitution our board of council members can only be made up of psychologists so it is a realistic expectation that there will be knowledge and skill gaps that will need to be filled. While psychologists in officer roles can receive training in the related areas this is unlikely to meet the competence and confidence needs associated with the tasks of the Resources Committee. As a result, Council has co-opted two people who will meet the financial and HR skills needs that have been identified for this year. Both co-optees have extensive experience in their related sectors, we are very fortunate to have them;
Membership will change year to year based on Council officership. As the President-Elect moves into the Presidency they step down from their role on the resources committee to be replaced by the incoming President-Elect. The council members in the Treasurer and Secretary roles continued involvement depends on them continuing in these roles. Co-opted members need to be co-opted annually and should be aligned to skill and knowledge gaps that have been audited. The Chief Executive Officer will remain on the group from year to year. The Resources Committee is accountable to and reports to Council on assigned matters.
Recent appropriate agenda items to share that have been before the council on our 1st meeting of the year on the 17th of January 2022;
CEO Report; End of Year figures (Accountant input), Membership figures update, Membership Feedback, Divisions and Special Interest Groups Activity Report, Risk register top 5, Property purchase update, and Personnel changes at HQ
Items for decision and action; Introduction of new members, a revised and up-dated Division rules, Council co-options, Nomination of Council Officers, a Division Application, a Special Interest Group for Addressing Climate and Environmental Emergency
Items for discussion; Board skills audit, Psychology managers forum, Strategic plan working group, Workforce Planning, Council Working Groups
Items for noting; Science and Public Policy Committee update, PSI letters to external individuals and services
Recent appropriate agenda items to share that have been before the council on our 2nd meeting of the year on the 18th of February 2022;
CEO Report; Membership Figures update, Membership feedback, Divisions and Special Interest Groups Activity Report, Property purchase update, Procurement policy draft proposal, Risk Register top 5 and Research and Policy Updates
Items for decision and action; Council Co-option, Change of the AP Guidelines to reflect CORU, a Revised and up-dated Division Rules, Panel members for Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology
Honorary (Company) Secretary Update
Report from Dr Andrew Kennedy
Since taking up the role of Honorary (Company) Secretary in January 2021 I have been well supported in developing and enhancing my knowledge and skills to perform the duties associated with the role. As Secretary, I have responsibility with regards to the charitable purpose, legal functioning and compliance of the society, needing to be knowledgeable of Charity and Company Law. To this end, I was supported in accessing Continuous Professional Development in the area, completing a Certificate in Charity Law, Trusteeship, and Governance with the Law Society between February and May 2021. The charity landscape in Ireland, I hope, could be described as being in a positive state of change with stronger governance standards and structures being expected of the charity sector by the charity regulator. While this knowledge has certainly helped with the development of skills required in performing the duties of a secretary, I am well supported by my experienced council colleagues who have served previously in the role, and by other PSI staff, our CEO Shane Kelly and Division Liaison and Committee Manager Michelle O’Neill.
The wider council membership has also been supported in accessing upskilling so that they can complete their council duties. In the first quarter, all council members were invited to attend training by Boardmatch. A range of topics were considered, such as; understanding the Charity Regulator and the Charities Act, what being a charitable company limited by guarantee entails and the general regulatory environment. It was also important for trustees to understand their responsibilities and the importance of their role, their legal duties and essential functions. We reflected on the organisational structure, member rights and the official roles such as the chair/president. We reviewed good governance, our meetings and board planning. We also completed tasks associated with the constitution. The constitution is an important document, it is our core governing document and is filed with the charity regulator. When we bring motions related to the constitution to an AGM, the charities regulator needs to be informed of and approve any changes that are voted in.
Recent and current matters related to the role of the secretary involve the submission of our annual report to the Charity Regulator and the completion of the Charities Governance Code for inspection by the Charity Regulator should they request to see it. As Secretary, I also had responsibilities to complete during the build-up to the Annual General Meeting (AGM). This was mainly associated with informing members of the process regarding the motions and nominations. The process is followed as outlined in the constitution and has to be adhered to. As Secretary, minuting of meetings has been delegated to a PSI staff member. Karen Byrne, Council Secretariat & Conference Coordinator completes this role. This is very helpful given the voluntary nature of the role and the time demands that would be required.
The Secretary also requires an automatic role on certain council subgroups, particularly the Resources and Governance groups given the nature of both their role. The current work of the Resources group has been related to the search for appropriate premises whereas recent Governance group work involved preparation for the AGM. There are also other groups that I am personally involved in such as Strategic Planning, Risk Management and the Pre-Budget submission, these did not require automatic responsibility at this time but they felt like a natural fit.
An overview of a typical council meeting
For members to have an idea of what to expect should you decide to run for council I will provide an overview of a typical meeting. At the start of the year, the council are asked to indicate their preference regarding dates and times of meetings and this results in the council being provided with all the dates and times of the meetings well in advance of the meetings. We have 10 council meetings per year, they can be any day of the week and last approximately 3 hours with a tea break in the middle. Council members are provided with the council pack a week or two before the meeting, the council packs can be lengthy and might require an hour or so to read. Active participation is expected at each council meeting and there are often opportunities to get involved beyond council-only business in working/subgroups. It is hoped that every council member will make the most of their time on the council for the benefit of all members of the society.
We complete council meetings as outlined in the constitution, for example, checking to see if there is a quorum. The President leads the meeting and our council secretariat takes the minutes. We check for council-only business which might involve a discussion without PSI staff, for example, our role extends into human resources. We confirm the agenda including indications of AOB. Council members must inform the council regarding declarations of interest in line with our policy, for example, conflicts of interest policy. We review the minutes of the previous meeting and the matters arising from the minutes.
Following this, Shane Kelly, our Chief Executive Officer provides us with a report related to their role. This might involve outlining our top five risks on our Risk Register, a membership numbers report, Divisions and Special Interest Groups activity report and membership feedback. On occasion, we also have input from our Accountant where the council review our accounts and discuss financial matters. Following this, we move into three different types of it
Honorary (Company) Secretary Update
Report from Dr Andrew Kennedy
In this update, I will provide an overview of our last meeting of the year which took place on the 10th of December 2021. There was no council meeting during November due to the PSI Annual Conference. I would also like to provide a brief introduction and overview of the PSI Governance Handbook. The document was last updated in June 2021 and is up for review shortly.
In our Governance Handbook, we reflect on ‘who we are’ as council members. Council members can have different titles under charity and company law. We are company directors/trustees and in this document, we can learn more about our responsibilities and duties which generally fall under statute and common law, and the memorandum and articles of association. Council members are supported by the provision of a code of conduct. There are 9 codes at present.
In addition to our legal duties, there are also good governance duties that focus on the overall direction and accountability. Working groups and committees also help us achieve these duties, such as strategic planning and resources. The governance structure of the PSI is made up of the council and council officers, council sub-groups, divisions and special interest groups. The role of the council and the role of individual council members is outlined. For new council members, they are to be provided with inductee documentation, such as the governance handbook, and policies, such as the conflict of interest policy.
There are operating guidelines for the council. The composition is outlined in the Mems & Arts. Generally, there are a minimum of 8 meetings per year and council members are provided with the dates for the year at the start of the year. The president and CEO agree on the agenda in advance of each meeting. Minutes are taken by the Coordinator Secretariat.
The Governance Team is outlined, which includes: the President, President-Elect, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, Membership Secretary, and Past President. The CEO participates in an ex officio capacity. The Governance Team might discuss issues of strategic importance or take decisions on behalf of the council when an urgent response is required. The different roles of the Governance Team members are outlined in the Governance Handbook.
An overview of council committees is provided. At present, the Membership Qualification Chartership Committee, Communications and Events Committee, Resources Committee, Science and Public Policy Committee, Undergraduate Accreditation Committee and Post Graduate Programme Accreditation Panels are all outlined. An overview of each committee’s purpose and objectives, membership composition and criteria, and accountability and reporting are provided in the document.
Sometimes the PSI also receives calls for nominations from external agencies and an overview of the process that takes place is provided.
An overview of each Divison and Special Interest Group is provided in the document and a guide for establishing and disbanding a special interest group is included in the appendix. In the appendix, there is also the grievance procedure for volunteers.
To review the Governance Handbook, log in as a member, go to your DashBoard, click Additional PSI Publications of Interest and you should find it there.
Recent appropriate agenda items to share that have been before the council on our 10th meeting of the year on the 10th of December 2021
CEO Report; the following was discussed, the PSI Budget for 2022 (with attendance from our accountant), membership figures update, Divisions and Special Interest Groups activity report, risk register full review and risk register top 5, membership feedback.
Items for decision and action; resources group update, update on property search, postgrad accreditation applications, student and early graduate representation on the council, a division’s membership rules, hosting of the ISPA conference, guidelines from the Special Interest Group in Autism, Special Interest Group application to become a Division.
Items for discussion; competency guidelines for a Division, some items needed to be deferred until the next meeting involving working groups.
Items for noting; EFPA standing committee nominees, placement office letter.
Honorary (Company) Secretary Update
Report from Dr Andrew Kennedy
In this update, I will provide an overview of the two most recent council meetings which took place on the 24th of September and the 29th of November. I would also like to provide a brief introduction and overview of the evolving and improving area of Risk Management that the Society undertakes.
Early in every council meeting, our CEO, Shane Kelly provides an overview of our top 5 risks on our risk register. There is a considerable amount of work that goes on behind the scenes by PSI office staff and council members with regards to the management of risk. This might be a good time to outline how staff and council of the Society currently manage risk.
There is a Risk Management Subgroup of the council that meets to review a Risk Register Excel document which contains our Risk Policy, Risk Register, a Risk Scoring System, and a Risk Historical Tab. We currently work with 7 Categories of Risk; Governance, Strategic, Compliance, Operational, Financial, Environmental, and Reputational.
Within each category, there are individual risks. For each potential risk, we describe the risk and the potential impact of this risk should it occur, we identify the risk owner, outline the steps to mitigate/control, designate responsibility for these steps, and we state how often the risk is monitored and reviewed. We then tabulate a risk score by multiplying a Likelihood score by an Impact score and adding a Control score which gives the Risk Rating which can be Low, Medium, or High. We complete our risk management by referring to the Charities Regulator Risk Management for Charities (2019).
It is important to note that the identification of risk is supposed to be a proactive and preventative approach to managing risk. However in reality, sometimes the identification of risk is reactive and some risks may be added upon a chance for reflection on how things can be done better. Divisions and Special Interest Groups have had an opportunity to feed into the Risk Register.
At the council meeting on the 24th of October our top 5 risks related to; reduced relevance of PSI post-CORU regulation (Strategic), not having a professional conduct committee or process in place (Reputational), council lacking relevant skills and commitment to serve its purpose (Governance), council dominated by one or two individuals or by connected individuals (Governance) and strategic objectives not met due to absence of /poorly implemented action plan (Strategic). We also added new risks such as the risk of a council officer stepping down (Governance) and the risk of increased activities with events, and Div/SIGs increased membership with lack of required services (Operational).
At the following council meeting on the 29th of November, our top 5 risks continued to be those outlined above. The next meeting of the Risk Register subgroup is on Monday the 29th of November.
Recent appropriate items to share that have been before the council on our 8th meeting of the year on the 24th of September 2021
Items for decision and action; the council were asked to review a Special Interest Group in Ethnic Minorities application, to ratify a member of the Supervision Working Group, to review a submission from the Confidentiality and Recordkeeping Working Group, to assess a Fellowship Application, to review the co-option a Student Affair Group & Early Graduate Group rep, and to review a report of an accreditation committee.
Items for discussion; Motion 4 and Motion 5 of the AGM and related correspondence from the membership was discussed, increase diversity in psychology was explored, and having a social event around the conference was to be considered.
Items for noting; included a Communication & Events (C&E) Committee report, the completed Charities Regulator - Governance Code Compliance Record Form, our Pre Budget-Submission was being finalised, Heads of Psychological Services of Ireland (HPSI) & PSI collaboration, PSI rep attending Mental Health Commission focus group, and Mental Health reform letter to An Taoiseach.
Recent appropriate items to share that have been before the council on our 9th meeting of the year on the 29th of October 2021
CEO Report; the following was discussed, membership figures update, Divisions and Special Interest Groups activity report, risk register top 5, VAT refund, website security, membership feedback, Charities Regulator Annual Return 2020 submitted, new appointment at PSI HQ (Shane Moriarty - Research and Policy Officer).
Items for decision and action; establishment of a PSI Standing Conference Committee (SCC), reviewing an accreditation report for a professional doctorate and reviewing an Undergraduate Accreditation Committee (UAC) report, asked to ratify panel members for re-accreditation of a professional doctoral course, review a submission/response from the SIG Ethnic Minorities following council feedback, review an application for a SIG in Human Rights and Psychology, discuss the carryover of division budget 2021 into 2022, discuss profit from division events, a follow-up with the Confidentiality and Recordkeeping Working Group, a notice from the MQCC on eligibility to work and ethics.
Items for discussion; the PSI Strategic plan, co-opting and skills audit
Honorary (Company) Secretary Update
Report from Dr Damien Lowry
I’m genuinely honoured, if you’ll pardon the pun, to be the Psychological Society of Ireland’s Honorary Secretary for 2023. It was quickly apparent to me that Dr Andrew Kennedy would be leaving big boots to fill when he stepped down after a two-year tenure. PSI Council members will
agree when I say Andrew raised the bar for the role, applying forensic attention to detail, improving governance standards, and introducing a mentorship programme. No pressure! So I will summarise the more salient Council business from 2023, though some omissions are likely
given the volume of content overseen by Council.
One of the biggest developments at the Society has been the exciting appointment of its new CEO, Sheena Horgan, who has made an instant impact since commencing in mid-June 2023. Sheena brings a wealth of experience to her new role at PSI, and the Board is delighted and
honoured in equal measure to welcome her to the Society. Sheena arrives to the PSI at such an exciting time with statutory registration looming ever larger, the imminent launch of PSI’s 3–5-year strategy document, the purchase of a premises, and so much more. It would also be remiss of me not to acknowledge Lisa Stafford’s tenure as interim CEO prior to Sheena’s contract commencing. Lisa, and all the other PSI office staff, work incredibly hard behind the scenes and
ensure all the Society’s functions run smoothly.
Psychology continues to await statutory registration and whilst this process has proven far more protracted than first predicted, the PSI has had repeated and recent engagements with both CORU and the Department of Health (DoH). The PSI Council continues to advocate for the title psychologist to be protected in law, rather than sub-specialisms, and for the on-boarding process of psychologists to CORU to commence. PSI Council members (Current president Dr Anne Kehoe and former presidents Dr Mitchel Fleming and Mark Smyth) recently met Minister Stephen Donnelly and his colleagues, and are hopeful that a solution can be found, which is acceptable to
all stakeholders (PSI, the Minister, DoH, and CORU).
Another role that has been transformed by its occupant is the PSI International Liaison Officer, one-of-seven Council officers in the Society, and a member of the Governance Team. Dr John
Francis Leader has fervently embraced this role, attending various international meetings with fellow members of three international alliance frameworks, and speaking on behalf of the Society at the European Parliament on mental health in May. The PSI is a member of the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA), the Global Psychology Alliance (GPA), and the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS). The Society was also represented by president Dr Anne Kehoe and Dr Leader at the European Congress of Psychology (ECP) 2023 held in July in Brighton, UK, where they met Nadiia Diatel, a Ukrainian Psychologist who the PSI sponsored to attend the event. The PSI was one of only four professional bodies to sponsor a Ukrainian psychology colleague.
Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act
PSI Council discussed the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (ADMA), which commenced on 26 April 2023. This legislation applies to those over 18 who have difficulty now, or who might have difficulty in the future, making decisions and/or healthcare plans. This has traditionally been a domain within which psychologists provide expert insights and judgements on the matter of decision-making capacity, and their exclusion from select prescribing classes of healthcare workers is seen as a matter of pressing concern. Based on the Attorney General’s statements, psychologists appear to be excluded from the regulations primarily because they are not state regulated and because the Decision Support Service (DSS) is not adequately resourced to complete competence/proficiency checks on psychologists performing these assessments. Council member Dr Sarah Casey has been actively pursuing a solution to this impasse, which all stakeholders (Health Service Executive, DSS, DoH, PSI and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth) seem keen to resolve. There will undoubtedly be updates in the months ahead and Council is of the view that this only serves to
amplify the urgency around CORU registration for psychologists.
State Funding for Training
Following serial PSI pre-budget submissions, and persistent lobbying by consecutive and recent PSI presidents, 45 additional fully funded training places were secured for doctoral clinical, counselling, and educational psychology courses. This is the first time counselling and educational psychology training programmes will receive state funding, heralding a sea-change moment for postgraduate psychological training in Ireland. The PSI Council did acknowledge the particular contribution made by Mark Smyth and Minister Mary Butler who were integral in bringing this development about. Council strongly welcomed this additional funding from both the HSE and DoH and continues to advocate for equitable distribution of funds for trainees currently paying for their training.
In early 2023, the PSI Council discussed its intention to adopt a Standards of Reporting Practice (SORP) in relation to its financial reporting and auditing practices. This is not mandatory, but it is in line with best practice and the Society will only benefit from moving towards this approach. The PSI’s new CEO has also brought added energy to Council’s efforts to ensure adequate and proficient governance oversight via its Resources Committee, which meets quarterly, and the re-establishment of its Risk Management Committee, chaired by the experienced Dr Gillian O’Brien. The PSI is intent on optimising its governance systems, policies, and procedures, particularly in the context of recent controversy further afield. This has been highlighted by additional discussions at recent Council meetings (relating to a past PSI supervisor training course) over communication shortcomings between the Board and key office personnel. The current Board has discussed this at length over multiple 2023 Council meetings, engaged with the relevant stakeholders, and considered systems to ensure there are no such communication shortcomings going forward.
PSI Council has also discussed and acknowledged the admirable efforts put in, voluntarily, by members to ensure applications for PSI membership meet the relevant criteria, professional training courses fulfil their accreditation criteria, psychology is represented professionally and
favourably across different media, help shape its strategic plan, review annual conference submissions, and organise events throughout the calendar year. The voluntary and often time-intensive contributions made by members are greatly supported by the PSI office staff.
Next President-Elect (2024)
Finally, the June Council meeting saw the deadline pass for nominations for the next PSI President-elect. One nomination was received, and Council ratified the candidate, Dr Damien Lowry. The theme of filling big boots continues, and I will endeavour to keep you abreast of developments on all the above topics over the months (and years) ahead.