Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions

Decisions on Public Petitions Received

4:00 pm

Photo of Pádraig Mac LochlainnPádraig Mac Lochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The joint committee has received a total of 152 petitions to date since the launch of the petitions system. The secretariat has been examining them to establish their admissibility and decide how best to make progress with a petition for consideration by the joint sub-committee. Some 133 of the 152 petitions received have been brought before the committee on at least one occasion. Of the 152 petitions received, 71 were considered, on which a decision was agreed, and are now closed; 41 were deemed inadmissible; while 40 are awaiting decision or still under consideration.

There are five petitions before us today. Following discussion, the decisions of the joint sub-committee can be recorded in public session. Members will again be given an opportunity to make points about the petitions.

We will begin with petition No. P00021/14 which relates to motor tax reform and has been submitted by Mr. John Breslin. The petitioner is seeking the introduction of a pay-as-you-use type of motor taxation system for haulage drivers, as opposed to the current system under which vehicles are taxed for a minimum of three months, with the annual cost coming to as much as €3,500. The petitioner has written to the Ministers for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Environment, Community and Local Government to make this suggestion. Since the matter came before the joint committee in November last year, the secretariat has corresponded with the relevant Departments. Consequentially, measures announced in the recent budget have gone a long way towards addressing the petitioner’s concerns. The decision of the committee is to close the petition and write to the petitioner informing him that this issue was addressed in the recent budget and that the petition is now closed. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The next petition is No. P00004/15 in the name of Lt. Col. Dermot Hickey which seeks to have complaints with the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces adjudicated on by a different ombudsman. The petitioner is seeking to have us recommend that his complaints which he lodged with the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces be investigated by another ombudsman. He says he did not receive acknowledgements and that he was informed that the Ombudsman had discretion over his complaints. The secretariat has engaged with the Office of the Ombudsman which has provided a detailed response to the petitioner. After investigating his claims, it appears that all efforts have been made by the relevant stakeholders to resolve his issues, including meeting the officer who investigated his complaints. The petitioner should be aware that it is not within the remit of this committee to second-guess the decision of an ombudsman or to investigate issues which are cbeing or have been investigated by the Ombudsman. My colleague, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, is going to record the decision of the committee on this petition.


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