April 27, 2022
Sinn Féin TDs request Finance Committee to seek powers to compel Robert Watt to appear – Mairéad Farrell TD & Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin TD’s Mairéad Farrell and Pearse Doherty have today written to the Finance Committee to seek one-off powers to compel the attendance of the Secretary General of the Department of Health, Mr Robert Watt, to appear before the Committee.

This comes following Mr Watt declining to appear twice in recent times.

Off the back of Teachta Farrell’s request, the Finance Committee will be requesting compellability powers which can be granted in certain circumstances by the Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight (CPPO).

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure, Teachta Farrell said:

“Today, I wrote to the Committee out of a sense of grave urgency following on from the failure of witnesses to appear before the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach in relation to the matter of the CMO’s now aborted “secondment”.

“Oireachtas Committees play a key oversight and scrutiny mechanism, but if witnesses can simply decline to appear before the Committee, then that mechanism breaks down.

“It’s extremely rare that individuals decline to appear when called, and it’s even rarer that Civil Servants would do so.

“The Finance Committee does not have the powers of compellability, but it does have the ability to request such powers in certain circumstances.

“The first step in this two-stage process is as follows;

“First the Committee writes to the CPPO of both Houses to apply for the powers to send for the said individual and any related documents.

“If the CPPO approves this, then power must be granted by the Dáil via a motion.

“The question now is, will the government support the role of Oireachtas Committees carrying out their scrutinising and oversight function in this instance.

“The Finance Committee has an important role to play. But in this instance, it has not been allowed to do that.

“I believe the time has come for the Finance Committee to reassert itself – to reclaim the vital scrutinising role it was given, and its responsibility for bringing accountability among Senior positions in the Public Service.”

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