Thursday 14 December 2017

Let's give our committees real teeth

We should beware any State attempt to emasculate, not strengthen, the arm of parliament that has proven potential

Rehab boss Angela Kerins. Photo: Collins
Rehab boss Angela Kerins. Photo: Collins

Shane Ross

Is the Dail being sidelined by its committees? Recent political earthquakes have tightened tension between cabinet members and Oireachtas committees. The more arrogant cabinet ministers see Oireachtas committee members as their servants. The more enlightened servants see their role as holding their ministerial masters to account.

Conflicting pressures have been ballooning at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), where government TDs have been torn between their duty to hold the powerful to account and the need to remain in favour with their party bosses. Sceptics suggest that some are treading a delicate line between nurturing their promotion prospects and fulfilling their obligation to challenge the establishment.

Whatever the restrictions on government TDs, the PAC has certainly been receiving unfavourable vibes from the Cabinet in recent controversies. It has been responsible for the exposure of the shenanigans at the Central Remedial Clinic, Rehab and other charities. Our decision to give a platform to a garda whistleblower and to question Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan led to his resignation.

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