Monday 19 August 2019

'Those who questioned her in an aggressive manner should apologise', says current PAC chairman about Angela Kerins case

Angela Kerins. Photo: Collins Courts
Angela Kerins. Photo: Collins Courts

Áine Kenny

Current chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming, has come out in support of the Ceann Comhairle’s apology to Angela Kerins.

Speaking to Independent.ie, the current PAC chairman Mr Fleming said: "I support the Ceann Comhairle’s apology on behalf of the Dáil. I think he was right to apologise.

"She was mistreated. I think those who questioned her in an aggressive manner should apologise," said Mr Fleming.

The Ceann Comhairle, Fianna Fáil's Seán Ó Fearghaíl, apologised to the former Rehab CEO on yesterday's RTÉ's 'The Week in Politics'. He said that he was sorry about how she was treated by the PAC committee in 2014.

This comes after the Supreme Court found the PAC "acted unlawfully" in its treatment of Ms Kerins, in a ruling at the end of May.

Other members of the PAC who heard the case have also reacted to the Ceann Comhairle’s apology. 

John McGuinness, Fianna Fáil TD and the chairman of the PAC during the 2014 hearings, said: "I have no comment at this time."

Read more here: 'Chilling' Angela Kerins case will continue to shake the foundations of Oireachtas

Labour Senator Ged Nash, who also sat on the 2014 PAC, welcomed the judgement. "During the PAC proceedings in 2014 I was careful to confine my line of questioning to the matters directly before the Committee," he told Independent.ie.

"I am not referenced in the Kerins case judgements. In light of these very significant recent judgements it is appropriate that the Ceann Comhairle made his remarks on Sunday, and in so doing he should be seen to be speaking on behalf of the Oireachtas."

Robert Dowds, a former Labour TD who was also on the PAC, says he agrees with what the Ceann Comhairle said. "I happened to hear the Ceann Comhairle's interview yesterday and I agree with what he said, including about the apology.

"In terms of the future, it's important that the PAC should be able to investigate the spending of public monies including such monies given to charitable organisations."

Read more here: Ceann Comhairle sorry for treatment of Kerins after 'watershed' verdict

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy also sat on the committee in 2014. He had nothing new to add to his previous comments.

A spokesperson for the Fine Gael Minister said, "at the time Minister Murphy stated that the Committee was acting outside its remit."

At the committee in 2014, Minister Murphy said "It is just an indication of a central fact that we are outside our remit, so the problem is to change the remit. So long as we operate under the current remit, operated under the Standing Orders, I do not think we can pursue this matter.

"We had a previous discussion in private on the legal advice available to the Oireachtas and the legal advice that we had before. If a second voice would help in the matter, that would be useful," he said.

None of the other eight members of the PAC who questioned Ms Kerins responded to repeated requests for comment, including Health Minister Simon Harris, Transport Minister Shane Ross and Leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald.

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