PAC described as the ‘most debased committee in Irish politics’

FG TD Colm Brophy says he has a problem with how the committee conducts business

Colm Brophy is a Fine Gael TD representing Dublin South West.

Colm Brophy is a Fine Gael TD representing Dublin South West.

 

Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy has described the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as “Ireland’s favourite star chamber” and “the most debased committee in Irish politics.”

Mr Brophy said he had a fundamental problem with the way the PAC conducted its business.

The Houses of the Oireachtas website states the PAC’s role as the public spending watchdog makes it “one of the most powerful Oireachtas committees”.

“It has a key role to play in ensuring that there is accountability and transparency in the way Government agencies allocate, spend and manage their finances and in guaranteeing that the taxpayer receives value for money for every euro spent.”

There are 12 members including Labour TD Alan Kelly as vice chairman, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Fine Gael TD Noel Rock.

Mr Brophy said he wondered about the impartiality of the PAC and did not support extra powers for such committees.

Speaking during a debate on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show on Friday on the decision to reopen Stepaside Garda station, Mr Brophy said that the decision had been made by former Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan

On the same programme, Alan Kelly called for the interim report that recommended the reopening of Stepaside to be published immediately.

Mr Kelly said the acting Garda commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin had told the PAC “we did what we were asked to do,” which reinforced the need to have the interim report published. “We need to see transparency,” he said.

He asked if the Garda’s head of human resources had been consulted about the reopening and what resources were going to be made available to staff the station.

Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien claimed Mr Brophy was trying to undermine the PAC and said that the reopening of Stepaside was fast tracked as part of a political deal to “shut up” Independent TD Shane Ross and get him “on board” with the appointment of the Attorney General.

Mr O’Brien queried why the Rush station had not been prioritised since it had lost 20 per cent of the garda force since 2011. This was all part of the force’s “smart policing” plan, which he described as a “Find your Garda on Facebook” strategy.