Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Public Accounts Committee
Business of Committee
Item No. 1 is the minutes of the meeting of 18 April which have been circulated. Are they agreed? Agreed.
On item No. 2, matters arising from the minutes, a note from the committee liaison officer has been circulated to members on the bodies that fall outside the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General, with a note on the accountability of the Central Bank. Do members have questions? I believe Deputy Shane Ross was to-----
Item No. 3 is correspondence received since 18 April. No. 3A is correspondence from Accounting Officers. No. 3A.1 is correspondence, dated 9 April 2013, from Mr. John Tierney, chairman of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, forwarding information previously requested by the committee regarding its examination of Special Report No. 77 of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. The correspondence is to be noted as we have already discussed the matter.
No. 3A.2 is correspondence, dated 25 March 2013, from Mr. Dermot Quigley of the expenditure policy evaluation and management division of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform providing information requested at the meeting of 7 March on property leases. The correspondence is to be noted and published.
No. 3A.3 is correspondence, dated 23 April 2013, from Ms Niamh O’Donoghue, Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection, providing further information requested at the meeting of 14 March.
Before we proceed, on the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, is the site currently in NAMA? We should consider calling representatives of NAMA as witnesses as they would have considerable knowledge. They have all of the documentation and would know. There is a major legal aspect to how the site was acquired. Representatives of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority will appear before the committee next week. In terms of witnesses to invite thereafter, it might be worth considering NAMA also.
In the context of what we might hear next week, representatives of NAMA and other witnesses can be considered, once we have an idea of where we are going with it.
No. 3A.3 is correspondence, dated 23 April 2013, from Ms Niamh O’Donoghue, Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection, providing further information requested at the meeting of 14 March 2013. The correspondence is to be noted and published. Deputy Paschal Donohoe raised this matter last week. We will be examining the issue of work activation measures at our meeting on 4 July. A representative from the Department of Social Protection will attend that meeting.
Regarding the leases mentioned in item No. 3A.2, we will not do it today, but we should examine that matter.
The clerk should flag the issue to ensure we receive a response.
Item No. 3B is individual correspondence. No. 3B.1 is correspondence, dated 23 March 2013, from Mr. Pat Geoghegan, secretary of the Irish Environmental Forum, regarding the Environmental Protection Agency. The correspondence is to be noted. Mr Geoghegan has raised issues regarding the competency of the EPA. It appears that his interpretation of a report on air quality differs from that of the Department. His latest letter suggests the emissions from certain industries are costing €1 billion. If that was the case, I am sure it is a matter that would feature in the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Therefore, I ask the Irish Environmental Forum to be more specific about the failures of the EPA. It will be up to members to follow up on this issue when representatives of the EPA appear before the committee on 27 June.
No. 3B.2 is correspondence, dated 15 April 2013, from Professor Niamh Brennan, former chairperson of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, regarding the committee's examination of Special Report No. 77 of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. The correspondence is to be noted. This matter was discussed in the earlier part of our meeting.
No. 3C is documents relating to the committee meeting of 25 April. No. 3C.1 is correspondence, received on 22 April, from the Health Service Executive regarding briefing papers on matters to be considered at today's meeting. The correspondence is to be noted and published.
No. 3C.2 is correspondence, received on 25 April, from the Health Service Executive regarding the opening statement. The correspondence is to be noted and published.
No. 4 is reports, statements and accounts received since our meeting on 18 April. Items Nos. 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3 are listed.
If members wish to raise queries, they may do so now or else contact the clerk if they want them to be included in the agenda.
The work programme is now on screen. At last week's meeting members expressed concern about the fact that the committee was examining the accounts for 2011 when the accounts for 2012 should have been finalised. This matter was raised in respect of the broadcasting fund, but it has wider implications, especially at this time of the year. I have been advised that the same issue will arise in respect of IDA Ireland, the representatives of which are scheduled to appear on 30 May. It might be appropriate to defer that meeting until September and we may schedule other business for that day. If we delay the meeting with IDA Ireland, we will be able to carry out a more complete and up-to-date examination. This is an issue we will consider as we invite witnesses to appear. It is proposed to reschedule the meeting with IDA Ireland and to take its accounts for 2011 and 2012 together. Is that agreed? Agreed.
Is the agenda for our meeting with representatives of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority on Thursday, 2 May agreed? Agreed. It will be held at 10 a.m.
At our meeting on 28 February we left open the position on Vote 26 - Education and Skills, as further information was required. The Department has since furnished detailed information and I ask for members' agreement to note the Vote. The Accounting Officer is due to come before the committee again to deal with specific issues. It would be appropriate, in preparing for the next meeting, if the Vote was not part of our agenda, particularly as the information requested has been submitted. Is that agreed? Agreed.