Martin wrote to Taoiseach about delay in filling top civil servant job in Dáil

Fianna Fáil leader describes system of nominating clerk as ‘outmoded’

The  clerk of Dáil Éireann, Kieran Coughlan, who is retiring in August. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The clerk of Dáil Éireann, Kieran Coughlan, who is retiring in August. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Thu, Jul 18, 2013, 01:00

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to express concern at the delay in filling the top official post in the Dáil, which will become vacant in a few weeks.

As tributes were paid yesterday to the outgoing clerk of the Dáil, Kieran Coughlan, The Irish Times has learned that Mr Martin wrote to the Taoiseach two weeks ago to voice his worry about the way a successor would be chosen.

“I am taking the unusual step in writing to you privately re my concern regarding the delay in the filling of the secretary general/clerk of Dáil post which as you know is to become vacant on August 5th, 2013, only six weeks away,” said the letter.

‘Outmoded’

“As you know the nomination of a candidate now rests solely with the Ceann Comhairle, for appointment by you as Taoiseach under the Staff of the Houses of the Oireachtas Act 1959 (as amended) which has been regarded on record as being outmoded and needed to be changed.”

Mr Martin argued that the appointment should be a transparent and accountable process.

Mr Martin said there had been considerable foot-dragging by the Oireachtas Commission in embracing the necessary changes to the 1959 legislation.

He said the issue was above party politics but at a time of extraordinary scrutiny in all aspects of public life and much-heralded era of parliamentary reform it would be ironic if the appointment to the most senior position in the Dáil was in any way open to criticism.

“This would undoubtedly diminish the office and the reputation of the Dáil itself,” he said.

A Fianna Fáil spokesman said Mr Martin had not yet had a reply to his letter.