Thursday 27 July 2017

McGuinness denies that PAC watchdog 'acted like wolves'

Fianna Fáil's John McGuinness. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fáil's John McGuinness. Photo: Tom Burke
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The chairman of the Dáil's spending watchdog has angrily hit back at claims that his committee has acted "like a shower of wolves".

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman John McGuinness has said he will always "stand up" for his committee, which has done an "excellent job" on behalf of the taxpayer.

The Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow/Kilkenny was responding to stinging criticism of the PAC by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Labour's Pat Rabbitte and former Fine Gael minister Nora Owen.

The three high-profile political figures raised questions over the actions of the committee and Mr McGuinness's chairmanship during the first episode of Independent.ie's political podcast 'The Frontbench'.

Mr Ahern led the criticism, accusing the PAC of acting like "a shower of wolves".

He said: "I know people, very personally, who were before the Public Accounts Committee in the last Dáil. How they were treated you wouldn't treat a dog. What it did to their health was massive."

And Mr Rabbitte, who is not defending his seat in Dublin South West, said the watchdog went "off the rails" because of "grandstanding and exotic creatures wanting to display their plumage, like Mary Lou (McDonald) and Shane Ross".

Mr Rabbitte told Irish Independent Editor Fionnán Sheahan: "We can't have inquiry by parliamentary committee because even though somebody is manifestly responsible for cocking up regulation or management of a bank, you can't say that. I can say it outside but a parliamentary inquiry [can't]."

Referring to the PAC, Mr Rabbitte said the present committee "went off the rails".

Ms Owen said Mr McGuinness became "a kind of prima donna".

Mr McGuinness was asked to respond to the criticism during an interview on 'Newstalk Breakfast' yesterday. He accused the trio of being "institutionalised" politicians.

"And generally speaking, when I hear comments like that, it crosses my mind that these are individuals who are simply protecting the status quo," Mr McGuinness told broadcaster Ivan Yates.

"I would stand up for the PAC. I believe its members did an excellent job, they put a huge amount of time into it and I think the public will now decide the course of this election."

He added: "But I won't take lectures from people, who I believe, when they were in power - and this is not personal - but they were protecting the status quo and were institutionalised in their opinions."

Irish Independent

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