Dáil Éireann - Volume 313 - 29 March, 1979

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Public and Civil Services Positions.

1. Mr. Blaney asked the Minister for the Public Service if a “black list” exists debarring persons from holding positions in the public and civil services; if so, how and in what circumstances, persons are placed on this list; and if [822] there is any appeal procedure capable of terminating such listing.

Minister of State at the Department of the Public Service (Mr. MacSharry): Section 34 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939, provides that persons convicted of offences under that Act shall be disqualified for holding, within seven years of the date of such conviction, any office or employment remunerated out of the Central Fund or moneys provided by the Oireachtas or moneys raised by local taxation or in or under or as a paid member of a board or body established by or under statutory authority. Arrangements exist to ensure compliance with this provision. Also, Government employees dismissed for reasons of inefficiency or misconduct would not normally be given such employment again and arrangements to this end are in operation.

There is no formal appeal procedure for terminating either type of debarment. However, it is open to any person affected to make representations in that regard which will be considered by the appropriate authority.

Mr. Blaney: Did the Minister mention a period of time?

Mr. MacSharry: Seven years.

Mr. Blaney: Debarment is for seven years. If a previous conviction under the Act of a person serving under a board established by the Government only came to notice after he had served two years, what would be the position of that person? Is special consideration given to the age of the person concerned, especially in the case of somebody in his teens who would find himself debarred in the circumstances?

Mr. MacSharry: The answer to the first part of the question is that the difference might arise between established and unestablished posts. For established posts the terms of the 1939 Act come into force. In answer to the second part of the question, there is no provision regarding age. These provisions, which are well known and generally accepted, have been in operation since the 1939 [823] Act and there has been no change since then.

Mr. Blaney: In the case of a teenager convicted on dubious grounds of being a member of an illegal organisation who had subsequently served two years in an unestablished post and was debarred from accepting promotion, is there any possibility of such a case being reconsidered in the light of the situation?

Mr. MacSharry: The terms of the Act are specific. It is open to any person to make representations.

Mr. Blaney: Has any consideration been given in these more liberal times as to whether such a continuing sentence is constitutional? In other words, it means that a person who has been convicted and served his sentence continues to serve a sentence.

Mr. MacSharry: I am not aware of any consideration being given to this matter.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Could the Minister review the position of entrants to the public service who after routine investigation discovered that they had served a sentence, lose that employment? In other words, could the Minister review the position that in the public service an enlightened approach should be taken to those who may have served prison sentences and who subsequently seek honest employment? In view of the enlightened approach of industry to such workers, will the Minister review the position in relation to the public service policy?

Mr. MacSharry: That is a separate question.

Mr. M. O'Leary: It is an important question.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is a separate question.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Would the Minister undertake to review the position?

[824] Mr. MacSharry: If the Deputy puts down a question I will give him an answer.