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

8:05 pm

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I oppose section 69 on the same basis as my opposition to section 68. I am concerned about the provision allowing a person to refuse to give evidence or supply information if he or she believes it impacts on section 68(1)(d) or (e). If the person refuses, the committee shall, if necessary, adjourn proceedings. The person can get a letter from a Minister to back up his or her point and the committee is stopped in its tracks. Under paragraph (b), the same can happen in respect of a Garda inquiry if the DPP or the Commissioner issues a letter. There is no mechanism for appeal by the committee to the Minister. We have seen this on two occasions recently in the Committee of Public Accounts. The Minister advises us this provision replicates those of previous Acts. I am worried about that because I have seen the previous Acts being abused on two occasions this year. One one occasion when a Secretary General did not want to speak about the Dublin Docklands Development Authority she simply sent a letter backed by the Minister and we were stopped in our tracks. On another occasion, we were investigating a case of over-expenditure on an office for the Probation Service in north Dublin and a dispute with a landlord. The Chief State Solicitor was due to appear before the committee but was not happy to discuss the issue even though it had been in a public forum since the Comptroller and Auditor General had issued a report on it last September. The night before she was to appear before the committee she commenced legal proceedings and then told us she could not discuss the issue on that basis. She contrived to frustrate the committee.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.