Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Select Sub-Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Committee Stage

7:15 pm

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Independent) | Oireachtas source

This point arose in respect of amendment No. 25 to section 44, which I tabled but it applies to section 45. I thank the Minister for the clarification regarding section 44. My concern is that the Oireachtas commission is not representative of the House. There is no representation for Sinn Féin or the Technical Group. The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission has 11 members of whom one is non-political, two each are from Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party and six are from Fine Gael. My dealings in trying to get a reasonable hearing on an issue from the commission were utterly unsatisfactory. Therefore, I do not believe the commission to be a suitable body to make such judgments. Specifically, this matter pertains to the threat of legal costs and the commission will be empowered in this regard. Incidentally, I believe someone must make such determinations and have no problem with the mechanism. I believe this is fair enough for those who have not been co-operating properly. However, I do not believe the commission is representative. In amendment No. 25, I provided for an independent judicial panel and I included that because I did not know what else to put in. The point is that I am not satisfied with the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission doing this because this is a serious threat for any group to be able to use. It can state that while one has incurred quarter of a million euro in senior counsel fees, it has now decided one was non-co-operative with the inquiry and therefore, one will be obliged to pay the fees oneself. This is my concern and I do not know what is the right answer. I used "independent judicial panel" as a sort of holding phrase but this is my concern.


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