Ministerial responsibility, policy design and implementation

At a conference in the IPA recently there was some talk about changes in how ministers and civil servants are held accountable, and for what they are held accountable. The traditional doctrine of ministerial responsibility, set out in the Ministers and Secretaries Act 1924, hold the minister to be the Corporation Sole, so s/he is legally responsible for every action of the department. This is obviously not very realistic and few would subscribe to the view of the UK Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan that the sound of a bedpan falling in his local hospital should reverberate in the Palace of Westminster.

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ReformCard: a tool to help voters decide

The editors and contributors behind polticalreform.ie have teamed with a large volunteer team of project managers, web designers and others to produce ReformCard a measurement tool to rank each party based on the quality of their policies on political reform.  We hope this will prove a critical instrument in informing the election 2011 debate. It provides the 25 proposals for political reform in Ireland which we believe provide the best possible combination to transform the political system and ensure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Continue reading

Cabinet Confidentiality

Jennifer Kavanagh 1st December 2010

As it currently stands, if someone wants to see the current cabinet papers on the IMF bailout they must wait until 2040. It’s almost like the last line in the Oliver Stone film “JFK” where the father tells the son to wait for 30 years to see if he was correct about his theory on the assaination of JFK. Continue reading

Should ministers be indictable for bad decisions?

By Eoin O’Malley (29 September, 2010)

The news that Geir Haarde, the former prime minister of Iceland is to be charged with criminal negligence for his role in the Icelandic banking collapse will, no doubt, be greeted with popular acclaim. Haarde faces a fine and up to two years in prison if the charges are upheld in the Constitutional Court. It is unusual that a politician faces criminal charges for poor policy decisions or economic management, as opposed to say corruption. Is it something that is desirable? Continue reading

Bank Guarantee Scheme documents released

Posted by Eoin O’Malley (15 July, 2010)

Even if there is no inquiry into the events leading to the decision on the Bank Guarantee Scheme, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee release of many of the relevant documents today, should allow us to draw some conclusions about the adequacy of the process, information etc. The documents are available here, there should be 56 up by the end of the day. Continue reading

Is Lenihan right to exclude political decisions from the Banking Inquiry?

Eoin O’Malley (6th July, 2010)

Little attention is given in today’s papers to Brian Lenihan’s appearance before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service yesterday. There he answered questions on the proposed Commission of Investigation into the banking crisis and in doing so made some statements on how he sees his ministerial responsibility. Continue reading

Finance, ‘best advice’ and ministers


Eoin O’Malley (28 June 2010)

The decision to review the advice and structures of the Department of Finance is to be welcomed (see Eddie Molloy and Dan O’Brien on this here and here). It is pretty obvious that the department lacks the capacity to give good advice to ministers, and that it was careful never to give information out that might damage its own reputation or that of its minister. Continue reading