Tuesday 22 October 2019

Ó Fearghaíl apology to ex-Rehab boss was 'personal'

Angela Kerins. Picture: Collins
Angela Kerins. Picture: Collins
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said it was up to individual members of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee to decide whether they wanted to apologise to former Rehab boss Angela Kerins.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said the apology he made to Ms Kerins last weekend was "personal" because he had not been authorised to apologise on behalf of the Dáil or members of the 2014 committee.

He hopes reforming how committees operate means there will be no need to sanction politicians who may break the law. His comments come after the Supreme Court found the PAC "acted unlawfully" in its treatment of her when she was robustly questioned by members in 2014 about her salary and other matters.

Among those in the spotlight since the Supreme Court decision is former PAC chairman John McGuinness, Transport Minister Shane Ross and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Mr Ó Fearghaíl said it was up to individual members to decide whether they also wanted to issue apologies.

"What I said, I said on my own behalf and very carefully in a personal capacity because I hadn't been authorised by either the Dáil or any committee of the Dáil to say so," he said.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl added that members of the public must be given "redress" if they have been harshly treated by an Oireachtas committee.

He said politicians had a responsibility to ensure the highest standards applied when members of the public appeared before committees.

"The idea of putting sanctions in place is something that has been identified by the Supreme Court," Mr Ó Fearghaíl said yesterday.

"I would like to think that we would have such a process in place here that the need for sanctions would never arise but we also have to look at how we can redress any wrong that would be done in a committee to a member of the public, particularly to a member of the public.

"The least the public have a right to expect is that the standards we apply are at least commensurate with the laws in place."

Irish Independent

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