Fifteen-year wait for public service code of conduct, Seanad told

Set of ‘integrity principles’ for public officials to be drawn up, Minister of State says

Minister of State for Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Canney: said codes of conduct for public servants had yet to be prepared. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister of State for Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Canney: said codes of conduct for public servants had yet to be prepared. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

A commitment made 15 years ago to draw up detailed codes of conduct for public servants has yet to be met, the Seanad was told.

Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Seán Canney said the codes had yet to be prepared, notwithstanding the fact that the 2001 Standards in Public Office Act provided they would be drawn up from time to time.

Mr Canney said that was not to say codes did not exist within the wider public sector.

“For example, many public bodies in the education and health sectors have codes of conduct and I understand the code of ethics for An Garda Síochána is currently being prepared,’’ he added.

He said directors and other senior public officials in the public sector were subject to obligations under the ethics Acts, while public bodies were all subject to the code of practice for the governance of State bodies.

Mr Canney said a key proposal in the Public Sector Standards Bill was the establishment in legislation of a set of integrity principles for all public officials and the subsequent development by the new public-sector standards commissioner of a model code of conduct applicable to all public officials.

The Minister of State was replying to Sinn Féin Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, who expressed concern about possible conflicts of interest when former public servants went to work in the private sector.

He said former county council officials were working for companies with local-authority contracts, while two former Údarás na Gaeltachta employees worked with a company they had dealt with in policy terms while with the agency.

Mr Ó Clochartaigh said he was not insinuating any impropriety on the part of anybody.

He said he was worried about the time lapse in bringing forward the proposed measures. A code for public servants would be beneficial and important and could be based on the existing Civil Service code.