Tuesday 6 December 2016

Critics need to keep up with rapid change in our civil service

Robert Watt

Published 19/01/2016 | 02:30

Civil servants now have to answer parliamentary questions and appear before Oireachtas Committees Photo: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg
Civil servants now have to answer parliamentary questions and appear before Oireachtas Committees Photo: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

There are many things I agree with Eddie Molly about ('Without accountability we will be cursed with politics of ineptitude,' Irish Independent, January 12). The business of public service reform is not just unfinished, it is on-going and is now the norm.

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However, his caricature of the Irish civil service as suffering from a huge accountability gap - which he goes on to claim was the root cause of Ireland's economic collapse - is a minority view. It will be interesting to see whether the forthcoming report of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry supports his contention.

Indeed, the Banking Inquiry belies the colourful but completely outdated picture of civil servants hiding behind the skirts of ministers to avoid responsibility. It could hardly have escaped his notice that in the course of the Banking Inquiry nine current and former senior officials of the Department of Finance - including Secretaries-General - were required to account to the inquiry and respond to detailed questioning, in addition to providing comprehensive written evidence now published on the committee's website.

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