Sinn Féin: 'Unacceptable' that public servants not appearing before Oireachtas Committees

Sinn Féin have threatened to obstruct Government business if public servants continue to refuse to appear before Oireachtas Committees.

Dáil deputy leader Pearse Doherty has hit out at the secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure Robert Watt who has refused to appear before the Finance Committee to answer questions on the National Children's Hospital overspend.

Mr Watt has agreed to come before the Public Accounts Committee, but has also turned down an invitation to attend the Health Committee.

Mr Doherty, who is a member of the Finance Committee, has suggested that Committees should "up the ante" and should refuse to facilitate Government legislation or the estimates process if senior officials continue to ignore these requests.

"The idea that we have a general secretary who is the accounting officer for that Department refusing to come before it is simply not acceptable.

In my view and I will talk to the committee later on, but I think we need to up the ante in relation to this issue, a general secretary should be willing to appear before Oireachtas members who are accountable to the public and answer questions in an area in which they have responsibility.

When asked what he meant by upping the ante, Mr Doherty said: "I think if a general secretary refuses to come before the Committee, I think there is a question in relation to the committee facilitating work on behalf of the Government parties in relation to that committee, that would be my very strong view.

"It's about making it very clear that there has to be respect for the Oireachtas committee," he said adding that it is "unacceptable" that Mr Watt had turned down a number of requests to attend committees.

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