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Posts tagged ‘Emily O’Reilly’

thestory’s.ie ongoing spat with NAMA Up-Date

Long time readers will recall that this blog has been having something of a legal disagreement with both the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), and more recently our own Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information (OCEI). The saga has now been running for eight months, and looks set to continue for some time yet.

For new readers (and we see from our subscriber figures that there are many new readers) we should perhaps recall how this legal battle commenced. Back in February, realising that NAMA does not come under Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation – because our Minister for Finance decided not to prescribe it – we instead turned to that other arm of right to information legislation: the Environmental Information Regulations, or EIR for short.

We sent a request for information to NAMA, which was promptly refused on the basis that NAMA did not consider itself to be a public authority for the purposes of those regulations (SI 133/2007). We disagreed, citing that the Regulations stated that a body “established by or under statute” (and also that the board was appointed by the Minister) was a public authority, and therefore NAMA was a public authority. In disagreeing, we sought an internal review from NAMA. NAMA complied, and their internal review agreed with their original decision, that NAMA was not a public authority. We then appealed the matter to the OCEI, a sort of sister office to the Information Commissioner, and also headed by Emily O’Reilly. We also added a further submission to that appeal. Months passed, after which we received a letter from the OCEI – a preliminary decision which agreed with NAMA that it was not a public authority, and seeking our response. We then replied to that preliminary decision, as we were asked by the OCEI to do.

Last week we received a copy of NAMA’s reply to our response, and have been invited to make a further submission, in advance of a binding decision by the OCEI. This has actually become reasonably technical on a legal level – but we believe it is all really rather simple. The core argument (among two other significant arguments) is actually based on how one reads the legislation.

The legislation states:

“public authority” means, subject to sub-article (2)—

(a) government or other public administration, including public advisory

bodies, at national, regional or local level,

(b) any natural or legal person performing public administrative functions

under national law, including specific duties, activities or services in

relation to the environment, and

(c) any natural or legal person having public responsibilities or functions,

or providing public services, relating to the environment under the

control of a body or person falling within paragraph (a) or (b),

and includes—

(i) a Minister of the Government,

(ii) the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland,

(iii) a local authority for the purposes of the Local Government Act 2001

(No. 37 of 2001),

(iv) a harbour authority within the meaning of the Harbours Act 1946

(No. 9 of 1946),

(v) the Health Service Executive established under the Health Act 2004

(No. 42 of 2004),

(vi) a board or other body (but not including a company under the Com-

panies Acts) established by or under statute,

(vii) a company under the Companies Acts, in which all the shares are

held—

(I) by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government,

(II) by directors appointed by a Minister of the Government,

(III) by a board or other body within the meaning of paragraph (vi), or

(IV) by a company to which subparagraph (I) or (II) applies, having

public administrative functions and responsibilities, and possessing environmental information;

Simple, right? One would think so, but NAMA doesn’t see it that way.

As far as NAMA is concerned, and indeed the preliminary view of the OCEI, it hinges mainly on what the words “and includes” mean. For us the legislation says:

a “public authority” means X and includes Y

where X represents the three types of public authority 3(1)(a)-(c) and Y is a list of bodies and categories of bodies i.e. 3(1)(i)-(vii). We believe NAMA clearly falls within the definition of 3(1)(vi). But NAMA reads parts (i) – (vii) as a subset of (a-c).

You could say we are at loggerheads on this one. And this actually goes beyond whether NAMA is or is not a public authority under this legislation. The disagreement here is so fundamental that it affects all other types of bodies that may or may not be public authorities under the same legislation. It is of fundamental importance to how this legislation is applied in the future, and could decide on how limited, or unlimited, the definition of public authorities becomes. Dozens of bodies could be included or excluded on the basis of how this legislation is interpreted.

source http://thestory.ie/2010/09/27/the-nama-saga-continues/

Comment:

 The Story Blog is doing the citizens of Ireland proud and should be supported anyway you can as I believe this is an example of what the Freedom of Information Act was all about

Citizens have a right to know what is going on in State financed bodies and the very fact the NAMA is fighting this should sound alarm bells ringing all over the place.

It is vital for our democracy that they are subject to public scrutiny from ordinary citizens via FOI

Best Wishes

A donation of 30 euro is been sent to you towards your costs and I would call on all machholz followers to contribute to this epic cause any way they can

God save Ireland from these Gangsters!

Ombusdman Emily O’Reilly claimed today the work of her office was being undermined by what she described as “deficits in our parliamentary and government arrangements”.

In an address to the Institute of Public Administration in Dublin today, Ms O’Reilly criticised the Government’s decision last month to vote against a proposal to have her report on a grant aid scheme for commercial fishermen referred to an Oireachtas committee.

She said the handling of the controversial Lost to Sea report illustrated how the Oireachtas was being side-lined. Ms O’Reilly published the report last December after its findings were rejected by the Department of Agriculture, only the second time this has happened since the office of ombudsman was founded in the 1980s.

“Unfortunately, the model of government set out in the Irish Constitution has become more of a fiction than a reality,” Ms O’Reilly said. “In practice the Dáil, and to a slightly lesser extent the Seanad, is controlled very firmly by the Government parties through the operation of the whip system.

“For all practical purposes, and I very much regret having to say this so bluntly, parliament in Ireland has been sidelined and is no longer in a position to hold the executive to account,” she said. “With the exception of the election of a Taoiseach, almost all decisions of importance are taken by the executive and are rubber-stamped by parliament.”

The Lost at Sea scheme was established in 2001 by then minister for the marine Frank Fahey. Under the scheme, owners of fishing boats lost at sea could apply for grant aid for replacement capacity.

The Byrne family from Donegal later complained to the ombudsman after its application was rejected, on the grounds it was made after the deadline.

Ms O’Reilly’s report criticised several aspects of the scheme, including the advertising process, which she found was not comprehensive enough. She recommended compensation of €245,000 for the Byrnes.

Ms O’Reilly said last month the Dáil and Seanad had the task of deciding who is right and wrong in her dispute with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

But following a heat Dáil debate on the matter last month, the Government voted against referring the report to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

In her speech today, Ms O’Reilly claimed the Government had stopped the Oireachtas adjudicating on her dispute with the Department of Agriculture by voting “along party political lines”.

She said this illustrated “how deficits in our parliamentary and government arrangements can adversely affect” the work of her office.

Ms O’Reilly said she would have expected a parliamentary committee, following appropriate scrutiny, to reach the conclusion that her recommendation in the report that financial compensation be paid to the complainant.

She said her office “had done, in its area of responsibility, precisely what the Financial Regulator was accused of not doing, in terms of failing to serve the public interest and rooting out maladministration in the banking system”.

Ms O’Reilly said she hoped the Oireachtas may yet find a mechanism to allow the report to be dealt with “calmly and reasonably”.

In a wide-ranging speech, the Ombudsman said poor governance in a number of our key private and public institutions lies at the heart of our economic downturn.

source http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5i_wcQYTrQYYRoOefflmoB6QCHtgg

see also http://breakingnews.iol.ie/news/ireland/ombudsman-blames-tds-for-economic-downturn-449298.html

and  http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0309/breaking38.html
 

comment

This is just the latest example of how our constitution does not meet the challenges from our own government with the self-interests now blatantly using the executive power to promote the interests of the chosen few

The political system in now was used and abused by a totally corrupt political elite and their lackeys.

The Dail is no longer listening to the voice of the Irish people.

Wrangling over the plum jobs and positions of power are the order of the day, sqandering billions down toxic Bank holes under the guise of the Con NAMA , and robbing ordinary people of their dignity in sickness

By putting them on trolleys in hallways, along hospitals corridors

Forcing the unemployed to work for nothing is programs (WPP) from discredited FAS

Allowing Bank Directors to be rewarded, who have supervised the systematic destruction of our national banking system to continue in place while the public loses their pensions and the shareholder loses 95% of their holdings!

Our political masters are so interconnected with these gangsters they have put the interests of International bond holders (NAMA)over the interests of the Irish people. We are no longer a free and independent nation our freedom has being given away and we and our children and the next generation are now financial slaves to foreign vested interests

This is treachery and it seems the constitutional rights of the of the people of Ireland are been ignored .This Dail no longer represents the people and any amount of shuffling the chairs around a corrupt cabinet will change nothing!

Traitors are still traitors it doesn’t matter where they sit

We the people want those responsible removed from their plum jobs and brought before the people’s justice. We also demand the a new government renegotiate the huge debts that were incurred by their corrupt bankers and the said Bank directors made pay from their own funds

Those responsible must not benefit in any way from their crimes.

These people at the top are the problem and until they all go Ireland hasn’t got any hope of retrieving its once cherished independence.

God save Ireland from NAMA and these Gangsters!

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