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David Cullinane TD introduces bill to bring office of the President under FOI legislation

18 October, 2018 - by David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin member of the PAC  Deputy David Cullinane has said that no public office should be exempt from freedom of information legislation, including the office of the President.

Speaking today on the introduction of his Freedom of Information (Oversight of The Office Of The President) (Amendment) Bill 2018, Deputy Cullinane said:

"Freedom of Information is about transparency.

"The Public have a right to know what is being done with public monies, regardless of the recipient of those monies.

"The idea that the millions in public funds that the President receives is somehow exempt from public scrutiny is a throwback to the 1930s and the philosophy that the public have a right to know only what their government tells them.

"Unfortunately that is an idea that still runs through Irish state institutions.

"I see it every week in the Public Accounts Committee.

"We know that constitutionally the President is not answerable to either the Houses of the Oireachtas or the Courts – although this right is not absolute as the President can be investigated and impeached by the Oireachtas if needs be.

"However, saying that that the President is not answerable to the Oireachtas or courts in the course of his duties is different from saying the president should not make public what it is he or she does with public funds.

"I ask that this bill be allowed to proceed to second stage and that whatever constitutional concerns people may have are addressed through pre-legislative scrutiny.

"No office in this land – including that of the President – should be exempt from Freedom of Information legislation."  

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