Parish Pump Politics: Do TDs and their staff need a code of conduct?
The function of TDs is to elect a government, hold it to account, sit on committees and pass legislation. However a TD who confines him/herself to that risks not being re-elected. It appears that many letters from constituents are acknowledged and passed on to the appropriate minister, department, or other recipient without too much regard for the probity, morality, or the law (eg data protection, equal status, law on contempt). What can be done?
Do TDs need to draw up a voluntary code for constituency letters
- saying "sorry I can't help you" is permissible and to be encouraged
- the TD takes responsibility for every letter not a staffer
- just as you cannot write to the DPP, they should agree (or prohibit by similar legislation) to not getting involved in civil cases, social welfare appeals, planning appeals, medical card applications
- do not breach data protection legislation to have a family denied their statutory rights
- do not write to judges or interfere with cases (except on criminal sentencing if they actually know the accused and limit it to character reference to be used in open court - as was the norm)
- do not name parties in a family law dispute.
Kenny asks Shatter to meddle in family case - National News - Independent.ie
Phil Hogan rejects racism claim over Traveller housing letter - RT News
Molloy's fate in doubt over rape trial gaffe - National News - Independent.ie
An attempt was made by an independent senator to prevent character references from public reps being used in court. The bill went too far but should a voluntary code of conduct take its place?
Government to block “bizarre proposal” restricting lobbying of judges