Tuesday 28 February 2017

Real people love Shane and Mary Lou Show at PAC

Most ordinary citizens now probably believe that what we need is more of the PAC and less of the Dail

Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS: John McGuinness, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Photo: Tony Gavin
ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS: John McGuinness, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. Photo: Tony Gavin

I don't know about you but I feel that recently I've found out more about how this country works from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) than from anywhere else. From Nama to the CRC to Garda whistleblowers, even to Irish Water. The PAC has offered a dose of instant gratification in a country where it takes years and billions of euro in lawyers' fees to find out anything.

Usually, by the time we do find anything out in this country, we don't care about it anymore and we wonder why we were so exercised about it anyway because we've moved on to other pressing matters. We often find as well that the conclusions of tribunals and enquires can tend to be tenuous and non-committal. Nothing is usually done about it anyway and the only ones enriched by the whole experience are lawyers.

The Public Accounts Committee, however, works in real time. Issues pop up courtesy of the Comptroller and Auditor General and people are hauled in. It is a bonus too that the people hauled in are usually current people who are still in their positions of influence and responsibility, as against some old geezer who mattered years ago and has forgotten everything anyway, which is often the case with other types of enquiries.

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