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Wednesday 3 September 2014

Taoiseach: John McGuinness has 'over-politicised' PAC's role as Oireachtas watchdog

Lise Hand

Published 13/06/2014 | 14:23

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John McGuinness chairman of PAC
John McGuinness, chairman of PAC

The Taoiseach has strongly criticised the chairman of the the Public Accounts Committee, John McGuinness, saying he has "over-politicised" its role as Oireachtas watchdog.

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Yesterday the Fianna Fáil TD called on the head of the HSE Tony O'Brien and Secretary General of and the Department of Health Ambrose McLoughlin to resign. But speaking earlier today, Mr Kenny said:

"I do think that comments made by the chairman of the PAC have over-politicised the issue. There are other opportunities for people to determine and to set out their case as to the effectiveness of their duties. But the chairmanship of the PAC was always independent and I regret that it's been over-politicised by these comments".

He added that the Public Accounts Committee "has always been a completely independent committee and has always been chaired by a member of the opposition".

The Taoiseach also defended the move yesterday to add two extra government senators to the Oireachtas joint committee of inquiry into the banking crisis, after the coalition was left without a majority vote after Fianna Fail's Mark MacSharry was selected instead of the government's nominee, Labour senator Susan O'Keefe.

Despite uproar from the opposition in the Seanad yesterday, Labour's Susan O'Keeffe and Fine Gael's Michael D'Arcy were added to the committee, re-establishing its majority.

However Mr Kenny said: "This is not about rows between the individual parties or rows between individual political personalities. It is to determine the truth and the facts of the sequence of events that led up to the collapse of the economy and the banks."

And he denied that the controversy had damaged the long-awaited inquiry before it even began. "Well if you were listening to some of the hysterics from the Seanad you might take that view," he said. "I think people should step back here and reflect again on what is the purpose of the banking inquiry and it's to determine the facts and the truth of what happened in the lead-up to that. It's not about inter-party rows, it is not about personalities. It's about determining the truth for the Irish people, and I hope that the inquiry under the chairmanship of deputy Ciaran Lynch will see that it happens."

The Taoiseach added that deputy Lynch has called a first meeting of the committee for next week. "I expect that everybody who's a member of the inquiry will knuckle down and get on with the very important business that they have," he said.

He was speaking after attending a meeting of the British Irish Council in Guernsey.

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