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.
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!