August 26, 2020
Public accountability needed now more than ever – Mairéad Farrell TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Mairéad Farrell TD, has called for the vacant positions on SIPO’s Standard Commission to be filled immediately as a key step to restoring confidence in holders of public office, in light of recent events. 

In response to a Parliamentary Question, Teachta Farrell has found that two positions on the commission have been vacant since February of this year. 

As a result, the commission is at reduced capacity and would be unable to complete investigations if a referral was made to them. 

Teachta Farrell said: “Through a Parliamentary Question, I have uncovered worrying information that the Standards in Public Office Commission has been working with less than full capacity since February of this year due to two vacancies; namely Chairperson and Ordinary Member of the Commission. 

“In response to my Parliamentary Question, there was no time frame given as to when these positions would be filled. 

“It is deeply concerning that these positions have been vacant for so long, especially for such an important position as Chairperson. 

“In the absence of a full membership of the Commission, investigations under Section 23 of the Ethics Act 1995 cannot be completed. 

“As a result, there is a major gap in our ability to hold public office representatives to account. 

“These positions must be filled immediately so that the Commission can resume its important work. 

“SIPO are crucial in ensuring transparency, integrity and accountability across public life. Their work is vital in maintaining public confidence in public office. The Commission has responsibility over the oversight and administration of a number of Acts including the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995.  

“In light of the events over the past few days, confidence in public life is at a low. This confidence must be restored and one step in achieving this is by ensuring that this oversight commission is operating at full capacity.”

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