Fianna Fáil Party Whip Sean O’Feargháil TD has today called on the Taoiseach to reverse his threat to the future independence of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
His comments came in response to new Government proposals to change the appointment of committee chairs, which may result in the chair of the PAC being a Government TD. The PAC is the most powerful Oireachtas Committee and scrutinises Government spending.
Deputy O’Feargháil commented, “Hidden in the detail of the Government’s latest so called ‘democratic revolution’ proposals is a major change to the appointment of committee chairs in the Oireachtas. A new D’Hondt system has many advantages but may shift control of the Public Accounts Committee, the primary watchdog of public spending, into the hands of the Government.
“Traditionally this position has always been in the hands of the main opposition party to ensure the Government is kept under close watch. These changes may actually end up depriving opposition TDs of the power of scrutiny they currently have and give even more influence and control to the Government.
“Fianna Fáil supports a stronger committee system with real powers and resources to hold the Government to account, including a new D’Hondt committee system. However the critical independence of the PAC, which has historically been strongest Oireachtas Committee, must be defended. No underhand Government attempt to end its freedom to investigate matters of public importance can be allowed.
“The traditional position of chair of the PAC should be maintained in any new system. I am calling on the Taoiseach to reverse this part of the Cabinet’s proposals and ensure the PAC remains a check and balance on Government spending,” concluded Deputy Ó Fearghaíl.