‘Gov­ern­ment de­lay­ing pub­lic-spend­ing over­sight’

Irish Examiner - - News - Aoife Moore

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”.

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