Thursday 21 November 2019

Row erupts over unsent letter to HSBC representative from Dail spending watchdog

John McGuinness
John McGuinness

Daniel McConell

Several members of the Dail's spending watchdog have this morning severely criticised their own staff for failing to carry out their orders.

The row emerged this morning as the committee prepared to hear from the Revenue Commissioners on the HSBC off shore accounts scandal.

The committee last week agreed that a representative from HSBC would be sought, but it transpired that a letter was not sent by the committee's secretariat.

The acting clerk of the committee, Charles Hearne, said he did "not get around" to sending the letter.

"No, it was not sent," he told committee members.

This drew a furious response from some members.

Independent TD Shane Ross said the failure of the staff to carry out the expressed wishes of members "makes a mockery" of the committee.

"There is a patter developing. If the instructions are not being followed out, we might as well as disband and give up," he said.

Chairman of the committee, John McGuinness agreed saying "it is completely unacceptable" that instructions would not be implemented.

He said he would be raising the matter with the committee clerk and the acting clerk as soon as possible.

However, several Government members of the committee said the criticisms were unfair.

Limerick Fine Gael TD Patrick O'Donovan said berating the staff would serve no purpose and said "mistakes happen, let's move on."

Longford Westmeath Fine Gael TD Gabrielle McFadden said: "I don't think it is appropriate to chastise staff members in the manner they were."

Another FG TD John Perry and Mr Ross clashed on the matter, with Mr Ross saying that the committee's work was being frustrated by the failures of the staff to act on instructions.

Mr McGuinness said notwithstanding the comments of the Fine Gael TDs he said it is important that orders of the committee are carried out in a timely fashion.

The hearing continues.

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