As time goes on it is becoming more and more obvious that civil servants are more concerned about the interests of their political masters than the interests of citizens.
Consider the following letter published recently in the Irish Independent.
Your lead headline (July 5) was predictable in its timing, but not only was it boringly repetitive, it was wholly inaccurate. TDs will not ‘cut and run’ for a ‘three-month holiday’.
Rather, the Dail and Seanad will be in recess until mid- September. During what you describe as a ‘holiday’, up to 40 parliamentary committee meetings will also be conducted.
Moreover, members will continue to conduct a wide range of constituency duties, a function that they fulfil seven days a week throughout the year. The Oireachtas actually compares well with other parliaments – it has a below average number of recess (nonsitting) weeks per year, Of parliaments we surveyed recently, it has the fourth least number of recess weeks.
It also has fewer recess weeks than Germany, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – countries often admired for their democracy.
In relation to sitting days, our parliament records second place in the same survey with a total of 1278 sitting hours and 177 sitting days for both houses per year. This is ahead of other two chamber parliaments, such as South Africa and Australia.
Finally, where parliamentary questions arise, the Oireachtas, with 40,875 questions tabled, rates second place out of the nine parliaments we surveyed.
I’d ask your readers to consider these points when forming a more considered opinion of the work of members of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
Head of Communications
Houses of the Oireachtas
Here’s an extract from the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour as outlined on the Standards in Public Office Commission website.
(d) All civil servants above clerical level are totally debarred from engaging in any form of political activity.
Civil servants in category (d) may not engage in public debate (e.g. letter writing to newspapers, contributions to television or radio programmes, etc.) on politics except if required to do so as part of their official duties.