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 Header Item Industrial Disputes (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Appointment of Ombudsman and Information Commissioner: Motions

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 819 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] Part of the reason they failed before is that they were not commercial - the aircraft were too big and the costs were too high. If we want those services to work, they must be commercial and Aer Lingus must make decisions on the appropriate staffing costs. The Deputy should bear in mind that the difference between five staff members and four is 25% in costs, while six staff over four represents 50% in costs. Staff numbers make a significant difference.

It is my preference that the base would remain open and that the staff should be normal Aer Lingus employees and that the additional jobs would go to normal Aer Lingus employees. That preference will be communicated to the Government-appointed members of the Aer Lingus board. The only way to achieve that, however, is for Impact and Aer Lingus to come to an agreement at the LRC and I hope they will be able to do that.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Olivia Mitchell): Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell That brings us to the end of today's Topical Issues debate. I understand a change is being proposed to today's schedule and I call on Deputy Joe Carey to inform the House.

Business of Dáil

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or the Order of the Dáil of today, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn on the adjournment of Private Member's business which shall take place on the conclusion of Nos. 17 and 18 or at 7.30 p.m., whichever is the later. Nos. 17 and 18 shall be debated together and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after one hour and the following arrangements shall apply - the speech of the Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case and Members may share time.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Olivia Mitchell): Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell Is that agreed? Agreed.

Appointment of Ombudsman and Information Commissioner: Motions

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move the following motions:

  That Dáil Éireann recommends Mr. Peter Tyndall for appointment by the President to be the Ombudsman.

and

  That Dáil Éireann recommends Mr. Peter Tyndall for appointment by the President to be the Information Commissioner.

I will not require the 15 minutes allowed but will be happy to respond to any questions Deputies may have at the conclusion of our discussions.

  I have much pleasure in recommending to the House that Mr. Peter Tyndall be appointed by the President to be the Ombudsman and Information Commissioner. The need for these appointments arises following the resignation of Ms Emily O'Reilly from both offices from 29 September 2013 on foot of her election by the European Parliament as European Ombudsman. Ms O'Reilly had served in both offices from June 2003, having been reappointed in 2009. The separate legislation which governs each of these offices specifies that the appointment is made by the President, but only after this House and the Seanad have passed resolutions recommending that a particular person be appointed. I can advise the House that the resolutions were passed in the Seanad earlier today. The appointments are for six years and can be renewed, but only by going through the same resolution and appointment procedure.

  I would like to take the opportunity again to congratulate Ms Emily O'Reilly on her election as European Ombudsman and commend her on the work she did in this jurisdiction. The exemplary work she did stood her in good stead in securing the very difficult task of winning the votes of the majority of the European Parliament to be the European Ombudsman against stiff opposition, including from members of the Parliament itself. All Members of this House will wish Ms O'Reilly God speed in the new role she is undertaking.

  The proposition before the House is to appoint Mr. Peter Tyndall. Mr. Tyndall is originally from Ireland and the Acting Chairman, Deputy Mathews will be pleased to note he is a Dub. He has retained close links with this country in his years abroad. He comes to this post with a wealth of relevant experience. He has been Ombudsman for Wales since 2008. His office deals with complaints concerning public organisations responsible for delivering services devolved to the Welsh Government from Whitehall, including health, social care housing and local government. He has devoted considerable effort to modernising the systems in his office with a view to providing prompt effective resolution of complex cases and to ensuring that his office acted as a catalyst for improvement in public services. In his tenure as Ombudsman for Wales, Mr. Tyndall was able to draw on decades of experience in various fields of public service in Wales. Before he became Welsh Ombudsman, he was Chief Executive of the Welsh Arts Council and prior to his work with the Arts Council, he was Head of Education and Culture for the Welsh Local Government Association. He enjoys very substantial respect among his ombudsman peers and recently served a two-year term as Chairman of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association and is a member of the World and European boards of the International Ombudsman Institute.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews It sounds like the Minister is a fan of Mr. Tyndall.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I am simply outlining his curriculum vitae to the House.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews He certainly has a great first name.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin In Mr. Tyndall I am fully satisfied that we have a well qualified, experienced and suitable nominee for appointment as our next Ombudsman and Information Commissioner.

The practice in the past was for the relevant Minister to ask the Government to note the name of the proposed nominee prior to consultation with the leaders of the opposition parties and the resolution process. It was my view that the most satisfactory approach to this nomination process was to depart from that established practice and to invite expressions of interest for the appointment by public advertisement. This new procedure is the first of its kind in relation to this appointment and facilitated a wider consideration of potential appointees than would have been possible otherwise. Basically, we asked anybody who was interested to make an application in confidence. A total of 35 expressions of interest were received from individuals with a wide range of experience spanning both the public and private sectors and included journalists, public relations practitioners, serving Ombudsmen, public representatives, serving and retired public servants as well as legal and business professionals. This represented a very strong pool from which to select a nominee for appointment.

Having considered the personal and professional qualities set out in the invitation for expressions of interest, I submitted the name of Mr. Peter Tyndall as the nominee for appointment to the Government and the Government approve his nomination.

As the House is aware, Mr. Tyndall's name was then referred to the Public Services Oversight and Petitions Committee under the new provision within the Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 2012. He met the committee on 23 October last and indicated that he would bring an objectivity and clarity to the role. He also indicated that, as Information Commissioner, he would relish the opportunity to bring about the changes in the impending freedom of information legislation which will widen the number of bodies included and will improve access to information more generally. He is also committed to improving the performance of the offices.

I am fully confident that Mr. Tyndall will bring a great deal of prior experience and knowledge to these positions and I am happy to put forward these resolutions, namely that the House recommend Mr. Peter Tyndall for appointment by the President to be the Ombudsman and Commissioner for Information.

Deputy Sean Fleming: Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming I welcome the opportunity to speak on the motions concerning the appointment of a new Ombudsman and Information Commissioner. I support the nomination of Mr. Tyndall for these posts. I hope there will not be a division in the House on this matter but if one is called, I will support the appointment of Mr. Tyndall.

I have listened carefully to the Minister and acknowledge that there have been some improvements in the appointment process. Regarding Mr. Tyndall himself, I acknowledge that he was the Ombudsman in Wales for a number of years. He is originally from Dublin, which is no harm. He was appointed as public service Ombudsman in Wales in 2008 after a selection procedure that was conducted by the Welsh Assembly itself. Ultimately, I would like to see such a procedure adopted by this House in the context of the next appointment of Ombudsman and Commissioner for Information, whereby people could apply for the posts to the House, perhaps through the Oireachtas Commission, a relevant Oireachtas committee or the line Department or some other mechanism of the House's choosing.


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