Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions
Decisions on Public Petitions Received: P00027/12, P00030/12 and P00032/12
The first petition for consideration by the committee is P00027/12 from Mr. John O'Sullivan on issues arising regarding the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The recommendation is that the committee refer this petition to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation for consideration, with a report to the committee, on the basis that the Department is currently seeking to reform the structure for dealing with employment and industrial relations cases. New legislation in the area is being prepared by the Department.
In communicating this decision to the petitioner, the committee should advise the petitioner to make contact with the National Employment Rights Authority and with regard to specific cases, the enforcement services unit, which can seek to have a determination of the Labour Court or the Employment Appeals Tribunal enforced through the Courts Service in certain specific circumstances. Is that agreed? Agreed.
Yes, that is very important. The petition is open and this is only the preliminary stage of our investigation. That will be communicated.
The next petition for consideration for the committee is P00030/12 from Mr. Des Keane, concerning the issue of capital cases commuted prior to 1990 and which do not amount to a sentence, with the result that this group of prisoners have no redress to parole or remission. The recommendation is that the committee refer the petition to the Minister for Justice and Equality for consideration, with a report to the committee. Is that agreed? Agreed.
The third petition is P00032/12 by an t-Uasal Jimi Ó Lorcáin, concerning the constitutionality and inequality of the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012. We do not have the ability as a committee to decide on constitutional matters. The recommendation is that we communicate with the petitioner to relay our regret that we are unfortunately unable to help in this specific petition request. Is that agreed? Agreed.
That concludes the detailing of the petitions before the committee. Next week we will detail the next three petitions on the list. Is that agreed? Agreed. I propose that we send a letter to the powers that be requesting that they urgently consider that we have more resources assigned to us, as promised. The secretariat working with us is doing tremendous work but a similar committee in Scotland has six individuals working with the petitions element, even leaving aside the ombudsman or investigations element. We have a complement of approximately 1.75 full-time equivalents. Due to the large amount of work that will arise, we need them to consider urgently the allocation of extra resources to the committee. Is that agreed?
I second those comments and thank the people behind the scenes who are doing the hard work. It is extremely difficult to get to the bottom of some of these matters. They appear simple but when they start unravelling, the process can get very complicated. It is imperative that we have more assistance or we risk hitting a wall in perhaps two months. Returned correspondence will come on top of more petitions, leading to a mish-mash that our resources will not be able to cope with.