Independent TD proposes beefing up PAC powers

Former charity chiefs could be compelled to answer questions about spending state funds under proposals to beef up the investigative powers used by the Public Accounts Committee.

Independent TD proposes  beefing up PAC powers

Independent TD Shane Ross has proposed new legislation he claims is necessary for the spending watchdog because its work has been “frustrated” by political interests within Leinster House.

Mr Ross and other TDs proposing the new rules argue their work probing the activities of charities Rehab and the Central Remedial Clinic have been “obstructed”.

His bill proposes to allow PAC to compel witnesses to attend its proceedings without any need to apply to the all-powerful Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP) for permission.

Using Dáil privilege, Mr Ross yesterday claimed “the work of the committee is being deliberately nobbled and frustrated by other committees in the House and other members because they do not wish certain activities to be properly investigated.”

He suggested that any guidelines for committees should be set by a body that is not the CPP, “which is totally and rigidly politically controlled”, but by a group of committee chairmen.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett reacted angrily to Mr Ross’s claims. “It is wrong for the Deputy to use the occasion to stand up in the chamber, under the protection of privilege, to make serious allegations that the members of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges are acting in a political fashion, which is totally and utterly untrue.”

The bill is due for debate in the autumn.

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