“Quietly Introduced On The Final Sitting Day Of The Dáil Last Year”

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The introduction of a “new protection” for “private papers” in the Dáil on December 17, 2015, by Fine Gael’s Paul Kehoe

Ken Foxe writes:

An appeal to get access to the invoices and receipts used by TDs and Senators for claiming their expenses has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been unsuccessful.

In their internal review, the Oireachtas has upheld their original decision that these documents are “private papers” and therefore exempt from Freedom of Information legislation.

They have also pointed out that there is now a “new protection” for these documents in the form of standing orders quietly introduced on the final sitting day of the Dáil last year.

These standing orders were adopted on December 17 and printed on 28 January 2016, just a week before dissolution and the start of the general election campaign.

Irish politicians introduced a “new protection” which stops their expense claims being made public (Ken Foxe)

Previously: How They Took Back Your Freedom

Pic: Oireachtas.ie

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25 thoughts on ““Quietly Introduced On The Final Sitting Day Of The Dáil Last Year”

  1. Observer

    There are dozens of journalists accredited to the Oireachtas Press Gallery. All this stuff is published online every day. They spot the smallest things, so I don’t buy the quietly introduced line.

    More generally, while Ken Foxe’s arguments that the private papers of TDs and Senators should be published to provide him with fodder for news stories, the fact is that the wormhole he is opening could require TDs and Senators to handover documents relating to their constituents or whistleblowers.

    1. Cabbage Bazooka Firing Squad

      The “fact” is that we are paying for their expenses and they should be properly vouched. If their current designation makes that a problem then their current designation needs to be changed. Their are dozens of very smart lawyers working for the Oireachtas. I don’t buy that they couldn’t crack this nut.

      1. Observer

        There aren’t dozens of very smart lawyers working for the Oireachtas.

        There isn’t even a dozen. I think there are about 5 or 6.

        Proper vouching of expenses is entirely different to this.

        1. LW

          Surely one of them is smart enough to be able to introduce a distinction between receipts being used to vouch expenses and whistleblowing related documents

        2. rory

          Do you work in the Oireachtas?
          (If yes, would you consider yourself to be a biased/unbiased observer?)

      2. Cabbage Bazooka Firing Squad

        You’re contending that the release of vouchers for expenses threatens whistleblowers or the private submissions of constituents. Even if we accept that, it could only be the case because of the designation of vouchers as ‘private papers’ (as part of an ‘internal review’ – perhaps involving Oireachtas lawyers, so maybe not entirely beside the point).

        However as Obama would agree, there is ‘private’ and then there’s ‘private-private’. Privacy in relation to expenses paid for by the public is an abuse of the concept.

        Therefore, the designation of vouchers as private papers is 1) a fictitious nonesense and 2) stands in the way of their being properly and transparently disclosed and must be changed or worked around.

    2. classter

      ‘There are dozens of journalists accredited to the Oireachtas Press Gallery. All this stuff is published online every day. They spot the smallest things, so I don’t buy the quietly introduced line.’

      Really?

      I wonder how many journalists actually read the extract above? How many of those understood it? How many of those spent time considering all the possible implications?

      1. Observer

        I wonder how many journalists actually read the extract above?

        It would have been emailed to each of them and prpvided in a physical copy as well.

        How many of those understood it?

        Who knows, but I am presuming that they aren’t blundering idiots. Maybe you think journalists aren’t capable of reading things or asking questions, but I think they generally are.

        How many of those spent time considering all the possible implications?

        Either some, none or all of them.

  2. Clampers Outside!

    If they are ‘private’ why don’t pay for it them themselves.

    There is NOTHING private about the use of public money. End of! Private use of public money IS corruption.

    1. Observer

      Grand.

      So the private papers of a TD relating to a constituent (say a whistleblower) should be released if they were shared with the Oireachtas report staff to do proper research?

      1. ahjayzis

        No – the receipts and invoices related to the public money they’re spending.

        I don’t need to see their health records, dental records or bank statement.

        What is the legal or constitutional impediment to separating those out from genuine private papers?

        1. Observer

          What is the legal or constitutional impediment to separating those out from genuine private papers?

          Yes, because precedents don’t matter.

          Establish a precedent on these papers, and think about where it will take us. Think about who out there might want to look at ways at getting access to TD’s private papers.

          1. classter

            Fine, then bring in legislation to clearly differentiate between information provided when claiming expenses & actual ‘private papers’.

            It can’t be that difficult.

          2. Anomanomanom

            Are you being serious. Making all expenses vouched or unvouched not “private” will not start a riot in the media to know every private thing a td does.

          3. ahjayzis

            Wow, that’s a ludicrously broad interpretation of the concept of a precedent.

            In that case, since they already submit tax clearance certificates and fill out members interests forms – relating their own money – the precedent has been set, I want access to their online banking accounts now.

    2. My Meaty Member

      This is nonsense clamps sorry

      there’s a lot of examples where for example spending of essential defense money would be by definition classified in the national security interest for example if the gardai were earning overtime to monitor a terror cell

      each case should be judged on its merits however and I guess vouched expense receipts could be easily exempted from the private papers subclause

  3. DubLoony

    If it went through the Dail, it wan’t quietly introduced, it jsut probably wasn’t noticed.

    Any taxpayers money being used to fund politicians is not private. Its MY money and I want to know what they did with it.

  4. Ken Foxe

    Have absolutely no interest in opening up private correspondence of TDs and Senators to exposure. They are rightly “private papers” and require protection. However, receipts and invoices that are claimed back from public purse do not need protection and should be public.

  5. Frilly Keane

    Observer
    Why would a constituent appear on an TDs expenses claim?

    Unless the TD claiming the reimbursement spent monies on the Constituent…. Perhaps

    Wining and dining the Constituent….
    Paying the Constituent …

    Consider yourself Observed

Comments are closed.

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