‘Government delaying public-spending oversight’
Sinn Féin has accused the Government of delaying public-spending oversight.
Brian Stanley, the new chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), has expressed disappointment at the three government parties for delaying the first meeting of the PAC.
The committee has not met since January and was supposed to meet on August 6 to set out its programme for the next term. That meeting will not go ahead, because the Government “ignored several deadlines” for submitting its membership list. Weeks ago, a Dáil business committee meeting descended into “chaos” after the Government was accused of stymying democracy for similar reasons.
Sinn Féin says the establishment of “essential” Oireachtas committees is being prevented by the Government, which continues to defer major decisions relating to how the committees are set up. The committee has been deemed a matter of priority, because of public finance responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit.
Mr Stanley described the move as “another sign of the chaos” within the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Green Party government.
“The Public Accounts Committee has a very important role to play in the 33rd Dáil and a number of parties have delayed it from getting on with its job,” Mr Stanley said.
“There was a deadline set for all parties to have their membership list submitted by Wednesday, July 29, at noon, and the Government failed to meet the deadline,” he said. “This was raised at the Dáil reform committee and an extension was agreed for close of business Wednesday evening. Again, this deadline was missed by the Government.
“The Government then chose to submit its nominations very late Thursday night, giving no time for a motion to come before the Dáil. Now, this can’t be done until the Dáil resumes in September,” Mr Stanley said.
It is unacceptable that “some parties can obstruct the work of the PAC, due to the fact that they can’t get their act together”, he said.
“This follows a delay in the appointment of chairpersons to Oireachtas committees and a delay in the establishment of the Houses of Oireachtas Commission. I am appealing to all parties to stop frustrating the process and to co-operate to ensure the committee can do its job.”
Mr Stanley said he will bring forward recommendations to have PAC’s remit expanded to empower it to follow taxpayers’ money, “wherever it is spent and whenever the need arises”.