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O’Reilly should lead by example

Congratulations to Emily O’Reilly on her appointment as European Ombudsman.

The role brings a salary of €248,000 which is taxed at the special EU staff tax rate which has a starting rate of 8%.

Plus she will be in receipt of an expense allowance and won’t be required to publish receipts to evidence the expenses claimed are legitimate, similar to the Oireachtas expenses system where every single TD, bar one, claims the maximum expenses, not because they incur them, but because they are “entitled to”.

It is to hoped that Ms O’Reilly would lead by example and publish receipts for her expenses.

But what is most interesting about her new role is that her office has 81 members of staff and its purpose is to investigate complaints.

The actual people who do those investigations are called Legal Officers and there are 20 of them, or 16 if you exclude the four trainees.

That’s 16 people to investigate complaints about issues that affect over 500 million people. Yet there are 11 people employed in the communications department and 15 in the ‘registry’ department which, according to the Ombudsman website deals with post, archives and the public register of documents, as well as identifying complaints that need to go somewhere else.

Remarkably for an organisation with 81 staff, there are 14 people in the HR department, which means although the point of the organisation is to investigate complaints, only 20% of staff are actually tasked with that job.

Of course, there will be the usual crowing about another Irish person picking up a well-paid EU job, but the omens do not look good for any EU citizen who cares about transparency, accessibility and accountability, that Ms O’Reilly’s appointment will help that cause.

Desmond FitzGerald

Canary Wharf




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