Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Public Accounts Committee

Business of Committee

9:00 am

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

Yes, when some of the key staff are out. We will be in a strong position to close that topic when we get the final report next week or at the next meeting.

The next item is No. 1335C andis correspondence, dated 24 May, that alleges the falsification of data by University College Cork about disabled access. I propose that we write to the Higher Education Authority, HEA, to draw attention to the alleged issue and request a note on what constitutes a part-time and full-time student. We will also ask the HEA whether it is satisfied that UCC adhered to the requirements in terms of declarations about the number of part-time and full-time students. Is that agreed? Agreed.

The next item is No. 1342C and is correspondencefrom an individual, dated 24 April, about the wards of court fund. This person has written to us on several occasions. The individual appears to be asking whether there is some way that the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Committee of Public Accounts could examine the wards of court fund, even though it is a private individual fund. We have discussed the matter at length several times. I am inclined to hold over this matter because Deputy Catherine Murphy, who is not present today, seems to deal with this particular group regularly. I think we should hold over the matter because I would not like to conclude a discussion without the Deputy being present to make an input. Is it agreed that we hold the matter over until the next day? Agreed.

Correspondence No. 1343C, dated 15 May, is from an individual who refers to concerns following on from a protected disclosure. He is recording his warnings and concerns with the committee. Can we note same? Noted. The matter is connected with a protected disclosure in the Irish Prison Service, as has been mentioned. I do not propose that we publish the matter at this time.


Mary Farrell
Posted on 1 Jun 2018 9:53 pm (Report this comment)

Time and time again this issue has been discussed over the years. PAC Report 2001/2002; PAC Report 2015; Justice & Equality Committee Report 2018 and underpinning everything, The Report by The National,Safeguarding Committee 2018.
There have been innumerable Parliamentary Questions on the issues and many, many emails and letters to Ministers, TDs and Senators - yet despite the power of the State it seems there is no willingness or ability to get to grips with the issues concerning Wards of Court - particularly those who have lost funds.
The Courts Service is producing 'independent reviews' that do not go anywhere near the issues. As they say - 'if you don't ask the right question, you won't get the right answer' - so an independent forensic examination of these funds is recommended and required urgently. Some Wards have been left penniless through negligence and mismanagement coupled with poor investment decisions. It doesn't matter to these vulnerable people who is responsible - they just want their money back. Is this too much to ask? Yes! Apparently it is. This has been tossed around like a hot potato, no one taking responsibility and no accountability. It was only in late 2017 that the Courts Service provided the State Street Global 'Fact Sheets' which state clearly that these funds are at risk. This is the only income these people have. The Wards of a Court system removes a person's autonomy and right to make decisions. It can also lose the funds held under the protection of the State on behalf of these people.
The people who are responsible for this state of affairs need to stand up and admit what happened and stop trying to undermine the families trying to help these people. This needs a Commission of Enquiry.
We are calling on our public representatives to do their job and deal with this.

Log in or join to post a public comment.