Monday 19 August 2019

Few apply for €175k top Justice job

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The top job at the scandal-hit Department of Justice may not be filled in the lifetime of the current Government.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has given no indication when she plans to fill the secretary general position at the department, the Dáil's spending watchdog has heard.

The role has been vacant since July of last year - when former secretary general Brian Purcell moved on following a series of controversies.

These included the retirement of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and the resignation of former Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

A hard-hitting report also found the department had a deferential relationship with the gardaí and "a closed, secretive and silo-driven culture" with "significant leadership and management problems".

The acting secretary general since then, Noel Waters (right), told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) he had not applied for the €175,000 job, but was considering doing so when it is advertised again.

Mr Waters said he understood six people had applied for the job, but none were deemed suitable for the role by the Public Appointments Service.

"We have come out of a very difficult situation. The minister has said this may be a demotivating factor for people in making applications," he said.

Mr Waters said he now did not know when the job would be advertised again. "The minister has said she will advertise the position when the time is right," he added.

PAC vice chairman John Deasy said he believed the appointment would not be made during the lifetime of the Government.

"The reality is this administration is coming to an end, so nothing will happen before the general election. It is a political appointee effectively, so we're talking about over six months," he said.

Committee member Shane Ross said that, in view of recent controversies, it was "quite sinister that this role has not been filled".

Irish Independent

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