Monday 24 October 2016

That's a matter for an inquiry

Published 14/06/2015 | 02:30

"I have been watching admiringly the way in which the Government conducts its business and I have decided to take a leaf out of their book"

I have been watching admiringly the way in which the Government conducts its business and I have decided to take a leaf out of their book. In particular I am a huge admirer of their method of resolving disputes over what happened, who said what when, and whose fault it is. And so I have decided to adopt a more formal approach to these kinds of disputes in my own life.

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Issues like this are frequent sources of ongoing disputes in my house. For example, there is the so-called "but you said" issue. Say a small child is badgering me to go to the park.

I might decline and say, "Not now, Daddy is working." (Reading the paper or looking at an iPad is technically work for me.) Where the dispute will arise is where someone will say, "But you said this morning you would bring us to the park to play."

The first line of defence will be to get technical in the manner of John O'Mahony, head of the Dail Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, who, when it was put to him that he had initially seemed to feel there were governance issues in the FAI, but that he then decided he didn't need to bring John Delaney in, pointed out that what he had said was that if there were governance issues, then he would need to look into it.

I will take a leaf out of his book and say that what I may have said is if we go to the park we could play. I would point out that that does not constitute an offer to go to the park, merely a speculation on what might happen if we did.

If that doesn't shut them up, I will resort to the next line of defence, which is to only answer the exact question I am asked and to provide no other supplementary information. So when I am asked if we are going to the park, I may say, "Yes". But when they come to me with their coats on, ready to go, I will point out that we did not put a time-scale on it and that when I said "Yes" I merely meant that we would at some point in the rest of our lives go to the park.

I will point out to them that they did not ask me when and that it is not my job as a parent to give them the answers to questions they did not ask. If they endeavour to find out further information about the timing of the trip to the park, I will force them to submit the question in writing to me and pay a fee for me to track down the information. I may subsequently revert to them and say that that information is not actually available.

If all comes to all I will declare that such is the clamour for information about going to the park, and such is the level of dispute between who said what when, that I have decided to bring in a High Court judge to examine the matter, and I will explain that because the information is now the subject of an inquiry I am unable to comment on it until the findings of the inquiry are released.

I will then return to reading the paper. A year or so later, when everyone has forgotten about the original dispute, I will quietly release the judge's report and we will all move on.

Sunday Independent

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