In an article published yesterday Irishhealth.com it revealed that a complaint made to the Ceann Comhairle by Labours Robert Dowds TD concerning the Minister for Health James Reilly TD for not fully answering a question put to him was upheld.
This is the second such complaint that has been upheld by the Ceann Comhairle against Minister Reilly both questions related to primary care centre lists. Previously the Ceann Comhairle upheld a complaint from Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin O'Caolain that Minister Reilly had not fully answered a question from the Deputy in relation to information about the final list of 35 centres.
FOI documents released show that Ministers press advisor, Mark Costigan, pictued above, engaged with a senior Department official concerning the written parliamentary replies. The content for written Dail responses is usually provided for Ministers by civil servants.
In responses provided to the Ministers press advisor, Mark Costigan, documents show that the Dept. official said
the Dept. 'is obliged to answer parliamentary questions submitted to the Minister.'
"'I am very conscious that, on two occasions in the last few weeks, the Department has been found by the Ceann Comhairle to be in breach of Dail Standing Orders for not answering PQs that were put to the Minister"
'it was in this context that I was particularly insistent last Tuesday that the reply given should answer the question asked." the official was responding to a previous email and phone conversation with Dr Reilly's press adviser.
"Details of the specific issues raised by Mr Costigan in relation to the PQ were not included in the FOI documentation released to irishhealth.com"
Question - Is it condusive to open government that Ministerial press advisors are engaging with dept officials charged with the legal responsibility of providing written parliamentary responses as to the activities of their respective dept's?
Queries over Reilly's Dail answers on centres