Legal Advisor to the Fianna Fáil Front Bench Jim O’Callaghan has criticised the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald for leaving the top job at the Department of Justice vacant for over a year.
Cllr O’Callaghan has said the publication of the Fennelly report is a reminder that the Minister has failed to fill the key position of Secretary General at the Department of Justice for 14 months since the departure of Brian Purcell.
“The Minister described the role as one of the most important jobs in the civil service yet she appears to be in no rush to find a permanent replacement for Mr. Purcell who departed the office on July 28th 2014. It is dysfunctional, highly irregular and totally irresponsible that a role of such gravity and significance remains unfilled,” Cllr O’Callaghan said.
“The Toland Report exposed the ‘closed and secretive culture’ at the Department of Justice and recommended extensive reform. 14 months on, the Department of Justice still does not have a Secretary General at its helm on a permanent basis to implement that reform programme. The Minister has a duty to explain the delay in filling this position and to explain why her stated intention in October 2014 to re-advertise the job has not materialised.
“We now have the Fennelly Report exposing serious dysfunction at the heart of government. Leaving key positions vacant only heightens the prospect that these types of problems will emerge again in the future. Key civil servants are vital in ensuring that department works effectively and need to be place.
“There are two very senior and significant roles under Minister Fitzgerald’s watch that are being filled by civil servants for more than 12 months on an acting basis – the Secretary General (Noel Waters) and the Director General of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (Michael Kirrane – Noel Waters’ previous role). Minister Fitzgerald’s failure to grasp the significance of this dysfunctional situation and her complacency in addressing it reveals a malaise and ignorance that could have repercussions for the Department of Justice and the agencies under its aegis,” said Cllr Jim O’Callaghan.