Former Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Dermot Gallagher, has been appointed the new chairman of the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
On ‘retirement’ from Foreign Affairs, Mr. Gallagher received an estimated gratuity of €400,000 and a pension of €126,000.
During the controversy surrounding his nomination last month Mr. Gallagher said he could yet decide to do the job at no cost to the taxpayer. At the time he said:
“I think everybody has to make a serious contribution in the current climate, I certainly would be prepared to do not just my bit, but significantly more than that.” and “Quite seriously, I am not interested in the money.”
(Has this man been talking to Mark Duffy?).
On reflection, (and after the controversy has died down) Mr. Gallagher has forgotten all about ‘doing his bit for his country’ and opted to take a salary of €90,000, the maximum allowed to him under pension abatement rules (About three times the average industrial wage).
There was no open and transparent recruitment process and the Opposition was not consulted. Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan said
“There was no constitutional convention or legal obligation on the Government to consult the Opposition.”
Here’s what a recent Transparency International report on how things are done in Ireland had to say about such Government decisions.
“Significantly however, Ireland is regarded by domestic and international observers as suffering high levels of ‘legal corruption’. While no laws may be broken, personal relationships, patronage, political favours, and political donations are believed to influence political decisions and policy to a considerable degree. The situation is compounded by a lack of transparency in political funding and lobbying.”
I have no doubt that Mr. Gallagher is a man of the highest integrity and will carry out his duties in a very professional and honest manner.
He is, however, human and given the very sensitive nature of his new job there will always be a cloud hanging over his work particularly if he finds himself dealing with a case involving a member of Fianna Fail, the party that has been so generous to him.
In other words, Mr. Gallagher begins his job tainted by the manner in which he was appointed and that is not in the best interests of the country.