Ombudsdudess Emily O’Reilly on freedom of information for all, Nama and Sir Humphrey. On Saturday’s Marian Finucane show on RTE R1.
Finucane: “Are you campaigning to have the FOI, Freedom of Information, returned to where it was, so to speak?”
O’Reilly: “Yes. And I think it will be. Actually it’s very interesting to see what will happen there. There has been a lot of..certainly the Government is moving ahead in the legislation. There’s been a lot of tick-tacking between my office and the relevant department. And now I think what’s happened that is observations on the various changes are going around the various departments. For me, the litmus test will be A) whether the gardai are brought in under FOI. The police have been under FOI in the UK since it came in 2005. The world heavens haven’t fallen. And also whether organisations that are frequently dealt with on your programme – NAMA, NTMA, all the financial institutions – whether they will be brought under FOI. I sense reluctance, not necessarily..well, I don’t know where the reluctance is coming from but I certainly, I certainly sense it. And to my mind NAMA, in particular, holds our livelihoods, a great deal of our livelihoods and our futures in their hands. And I think they should be open to as much scrutiny as possible.
Finucane: “And there is no information whatsoever?”
O’Reilly: “No, there’s no information…I mean, you know they talk about…Actually it was quite funny because Frank Daly, he was being interviewed. I don’t know whether you were interviewing him or Sean O’Rourke, or some programme there recently..And he said, in relation to NAMA…And Frank, I hope I’m quoting you correctly, he said ‘You can have commercial viability or you can have transparency but you can’t have both’…something like that. But it was almost as if he was deliberately parodying Yes, Minister, and particularly the episode called Open Government in which Sir Humphrey says to Prime Minister Hacker, who’s all on for open Government says ‘Prime Minister, you can have openness, you can have Government. But you can’t have both.’ You know? So, commercial sensitivity, of course. But I think we the people deserve to know what this organisation that is dealing with billions is doing.”
Pic Via Office of The Ombudsman