Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 1 July 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)
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We have had a chance to deliberate on all the petitions before us in private session and will now read our decisions into the record.

The first petition, No. P00008/14, in the name of Mr. Desmond Fitzgerald, concerns public access to the Seanad and Dáil Galleries. The petitioner is arguing that the public should be able to gain access to the Houses without sponsorship from a Member of Parliament. This matter was referred to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. That committee is to introduce the desired approach in the autumn. Therefore, the objectives have been achieved. Our committee has agreed to close this petition and forward a copy of the response of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to the petitioner, noting that we will keep him informed of any progress. That is the decision of our committee.

The next petition, in the name of Ms Bridie Cox, is No. P000013/14, which contends that injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere. This is a call for the introduction of procedural safeguards and legislation to prevent injustice by State officials and the HSE and for all investigations to be carried out by an independent body, such as an independent dedicated health ombudsman, and not the State body itself. We have agreed to refer this petition to the Joint Committee on Health and Children and we have requested that it place on its work programme a full review of the Protected Disclosures Act and how it is working on the ground, with particular emphasis on how it working in regard to nursing homes. Obviously, our committee will monitor how this concern is addressed within the health committee. We will refer to the petitioner correspondence received from the HSE that I hope addresses some of her concerns. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Petition No. P000040/14, on disease rates linked to central heating systems, is in the name of Mr. Tony Rochford. He contends that, since 2000, a large percentage of plumbers have started to use single-check non-return valves to link a householder’s central heating system and fresh water supply. There was a different approach prior to 2000. Mr. Rochford feels many houses are affected by this issue. We have decided that we will invite the National Standards Authority of Ireland and officials from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to appear before the committee in public session later this year in the autumn.

The next petition,No. P00002/15, on the non-compliant installation of water meter boxes in vehicle access locations by Irish Water, is from Mr. Con O’Leary.

He claims this is not in compliance with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government circular BC6/2009.

We have agreed a number of measures concerning this petition. We will forward a copy of the correspondence and the responses we received to the petitioner. We will invite the Department to appear before the committee to confirm the following: why circular BC6/2009 does not apply to the current process, whether there are any new guidelines or legislation governing the fitting of water meter boxes, whether there was any specification listed in the tendering process as to the type of boxes which should be fitted by the successful company, and why the Department is not evaluating, testing, assessing or certifying the products or design solutions. We will invite Irish Water to appear before the committee to discuss its independent testing of grade C boxes. We will pursue with both the Department and Irish Water the issue of meter reading. It is understood that the grade B box is made of cast iron whereas the grade C box is made of plastic. We understand that Irish Water is going to read meters by wireless transmission. Obviously cast iron boxes might impede the wireless signal's ability to read such meters. Those are the measures we have agreed concerning that matter, which is to be revisited in the autumn. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Petition No. P000013/15, Our Children’s Health Campaign, is from Mr. Peter Fitzpatrick. This petition was referred to us from the Joint Committee on Health and Children and is supported by 65,000 signatures. We will refer this petition back to the Joint Committee on Health and Children, which is the most appropriate one to address this petition. I understand it is agreeable to that committee and obviously we will continue to monitor the matter.

The joint committee adjourned at 5 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, 8 July 2015.