Standards Commission releases reports into non-compliance with Ethics Legislation

The Standards in Public Office Commission today released six reports of their investigations into non-compliance with the Ethics in Public Office Acts (the Acts).

Under the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (the Act), appointees to senior positions of employment in, or to directorships of, public bodies are required to provide evidence to the Commission of compliance with taxation legislation within statutory timeframes.  The Act also requires the Commission to investigate any contraventions of the tax clearance provisions that may arise.

The reports released today pertain to individuals who have failed to comply with their obligations to provide evidence of tax compliance to the Commission on their appointment to senior office. On foot of their investigations, the Commission has found the following individuals have failed to comply with the tax compliance provisions of the Acts:

·         Dr John Doherty, Consultant, HSE, Dublin Midlands Hospital Group

·         Dr Giuseppe Gullo, Consultant, St Vincent’s University Hospital

·         Mr Emir Hoti, Consultant, St Vincent’s University Hospital

·         Dr Jeffrey McCann, Consultant, St Vincent’s University Hospital

·         Professor James Paul O’Neill, Beaumont Hospital

·         Mr Kieran O’Shea, Consultant, St Vincent’s University Hospital

As required by the Acts, the Commission has laid a copy of these reports before the Oireachtas and has provided a copy to the individual and the person’s employing public body. One of the individuals, Mr Emir Hoti, has subsequently complied.

Where the Commission is aware of appointments to senior office, it seeks to achieve compliance of the individual concerned. Most individuals who are notified of their obligations do comply. If an individual fails to comply or does not engage, the Commission launches an investigation.

The published reports relate to individuals appointed to senior office where the public body concerned has notified the Commission of the appointment, thereby facilitating the compliance of its employees with the Acts. The Commission notes that there may be a number of appointees to senior office that have escaped scrutiny as not all public bodies notify the Commission of appointments to public office.

For the purposes of ensuring that individuals subject to tax clearance obligations are aware of their obligations and to facilitate compliance, the Commission has asked all public bodies to provide details of all relevant appointments made.  There is no statutory requirement for public bodies to do so, and as a result, adherence to the Commission’s request has been inconsistent.

The Commission commented in its most recent annual report on the difficulties it continues to experience in overseeing these provisions due to the fact that not all public bodies are providing the necessary information, which in turn makes it difficult to identify individuals subject to the Act’s provisions.  The failure by public bodies to provide the necessary information has the effect of obstructing the effective implementation of these provisions of the Act, and places the employees in a position of non-compliance, for which they could be subject to investigation.

The Commission will continue to pursue the compliance of individual appointees and continue to seek timely information from public bodies about appointments to senior office.  Further reports may issue in other cases of non-compliance.  

For more information, and to read the investigation reports, go to the Commission’s website at www.sipo.ie.

Background

The Standards Commission is the independent body charged with oversight of the Ethics in Public Office Acts (1995 and 2001), the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended) and the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015.

The members of the Standards Commission are:

-       Justice Daniel O'Keeffe, Chairperson;

-       Seamus McCarthy, Comptroller and Auditor General;

-       Peter Tyndall, Ombudsman;

-       Peter Finnegan, Clerk of Dáil Éireann;

-       Martin Groves, Clerk of Seanad Éireann; and

-       Jim O'Keeffe, former TD.

Relevant Legislation

·         Ethics in Public Office Act 1995

·         Standards in Public Office Act 2001

Section 23 of the Standards Act 2001

Evidence of compliance with Acts by holders of senior office.

23.—(1) A person who is appointed to a senior office after the commencement of this section shall, not more than 9 months after the date on which he or she is so appointed (“the appointment date”), furnish to the Commission—

(a) (i) a tax clearance certificate that is in force and was issued to the person not more than 9 months before, and not more than 9 months after, the appointment date,

or

(ii) an application statement that was issued to the person and was made not more than 9 months before, and not more than 9 months after, the appointment date,

and

(b)     a statutory declaration made by the person not more than one month before, and not more than one month after, the appointment date to the effect that, at the time of the making of the declaration, the person is, to the best of his or her knowledge and belief, in compliance with the obligations specified in subsection (1) of section 25 and that nothing in subsection (2) of that section prevents the issue to him or her of a tax clearance certificate.

(2) If a person contravenes subsection (1), the Commission shall investigate the matter and shall draw up a report in writing of the results of its investigation and furnish a copy of it to the public body concerned.

(3) The Commission shall cause copies of a report under subsection (2) to be laid before each House.