Two TDs miss half of PAC’s meetings - and only one has 100% attendance

Two government TDs did not show up to more than half of the meetings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of which they are members. The two are Derek Nolan of Labour and Aine Collins of Fine Gael.
Two TDs miss half of PAC’s meetings - and only one has 100% attendance

Only one member, Labour’s Joe Costello, had a perfect 100% record of attendance, while chairman John McGuinness and vice-chair John Deasy went to 94% of meetings.

Attendance records for the committee show while some members made it to over 94% of meetings last year, other TDs failed to show up for the vast majority of gatherings of the most important Dáil committee.

Joe Costello
Joe Costello

Figures obtained by the Irish Examiner reveal that Mr Nolan showed up for 11 out of 33 meetings from December 2014 to December 2015. Ms Collins attended 16 of the 33 meetings, the records show.

Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming, according to the figures, attended 13 or 39% of meetings during the year.

Mr Nolan, who is a representative for the Galway West constituency, was a regular attendee at PAC meetings in the earlier part of this Dáil term, but his numbers have fallen sharply in recent times, as reflected by the attendance records.

Explaining his low attendance rate last year, Mr Nolan said: “In the early days, I attended most meetings and I was a generalist in terms of issues. I was a jack of all trades and a master of none. More recently, I have tended to specialise on certain topics so hence my attendance numbers would be lower,” he said.

Mr Nolan denied the drop in his attendance rates was to do with him concentrating on his re-election campaign.

“It wouldn’t have had an impact on the election or my campaign as I would be in the Dáil on a Thursday morning anyway,” he said.

Mr Nolan said as there are several Labour members of the committee, he said they worked as a team to ensure the party was properly represented at PAC meetings on Thursday mornings.

“I would work closely with my Labour colleagues on PAC as a team, so we would tic tac to ensure someone was always there,” he said.

Ms Collins, speaking last night, said her involvement in the campaign to promote small businesses ahead of the budget meant her diary had a number of clashes, which caused her to miss PAC meetings.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, the Cork North-West TD, said she takes her role on PAC very seriously but her involvement in the small business campaign, which was highly successful, meant some meetings of PAC had to be missed. “A lot of those meetings for the small business group happened on Thursdays which unfortunately meant I wasn’t there,” she said.

Defending his record, Mr Fleming said anyone who has watched the PAC knows he has made a “telling contribution” to many meetings he attended. “There are issues I specialise in and when there I contributed fully. Otherwise, I don’t see the point of wasting people’s time,” Mr Fleming said.

The period upon which the figures are based is from when new members of the committee came aboard following the reshuffle which saw Simon Harris promoted to junior minister and members Kieran O’Donnell and Eoghan Murphy leave to take up their position on the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.

The members of the PAC are: John McGuinness (chairman); John Deasy (vice-chair); John Perry (FG); Aine Collins (FG); Paul Connaughton (FG); Joe Costello (Labour); Robert Dowds (Labour); Sean Fleming (Fianna Fáil); Mary Lou McDonald (SF); Gabrielle McFadden (Fine Gael); Derek Nolan (Labour); Shane Ross (Independent) and Patrick O’Donovan (Fine Gael).

The PAC is seen as the most important Dáil committee as it deals with how the State’s money is spent.

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