Sinn Féin introduces legislation to better protect the public purse – McDonald

Sinn Féin Dublin Central TD Mary Lou McDonald and colleague Deputy David Cullinane introduced a straightforward piece of legislation today that will, if enacted, strengthen good governance, accountability and the public interest within all organisations in receipt of public monies.

The Sinn Féin Deputy Leader said:

“As a member of the Public Accounts Committee I have seen first-hand the enormous value of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.  Both the C&AG and PAC have exposed poor governance in various organisations in receipt of substantial amounts of public monies.

“Oversight keeps all organisations right – big and small. There is a particular responsibility on the state to ensure all public monies are spent appropriately and to the maximum benefit of the people.

“Under existing legislation the Comptroller and Auditor General cannot always follow the money. This restriction is imposed on him by politicians as current legislation limits his audit powers to organisations in receipt of public monies that constitutes 50% or more of their annual income. This restriction put thousands of what are known as Section 38 and 39 organisations out of the reach of the C&AG.

“This simply makes no sense, and has only served to undermine the public’s confidence in the much needed services Section 38 and Section 39 organisations deliver on behalf of the state.

“Services that our most vulnerable people rely on that might not otherwise be available to families – be it in mental health, disability supports and workplace training or rehabilitation.

“Sinn Féin’s legislation removes this restriction.

“It is the people who entrust the Government of the day to collect and administer their monies to the collective benefit of all.  That is why the work of the C&AG and the PAC is so important. By chasing the money, the people can be assured the necessary checks and balances are in place to protect their money and the public services they rely on.

“To complement this legislation Sinn Féin also provided an additional budgetary allocation for the C&AG in our alternative budget document to assist the office in the expanded role we envisage for it.

“Government must learn from the mistakes of the past. Politicians of all parties and none must enable the C&AG to fulfil in full its role within the public administration system.

“Departmental bodies such as the HSE must in turn address the shortfalls in their oversight policies and procedures. This is how we as politicians protect the public purse and deliver first world public services to the highest standards of accountability and oversight.” ENDS