Seanad Éireann - Volume 140 - 15 June, 1994
Appointment of Ombudsman: Motion.
Mr. Wright Mr. Wright
Mr. Wright: I move:
That Seanad Éireann recommends Mr. Kevin Murphy for appointment by the President to be the Ombudsman.
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern) Bertie Ahern
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): The motion before the House proposes that Seanad Éireann should recommend Mr. Kevin Murphy for appointment by the President to be the Ombudsman. Mr. Michael Mills, the present Ombudsman, is due to retire from that office at the end of October in accordance with the terms of the Ombudsman Act, 1980. Members of this House will be aware the legislation provides that the Ombudsman is to be appointed by the President upon resolutions passed by the Dáil and Seanad recommending the appointment of the  person concerned. Dáil Éireann passed the necessary motion on 1 June this year.
I could not let this opportunity pass without saying something about the exemplary service Mr. Mills has rendered during his ten year term as Ombudsman. Before his appointment, the title “Ombudsman” was an esoteric term in this country — known to and understood by only a small group of politicians, civil servants, academics and others who took a particular interest in the machinery of Government. However the success of any Ombudsman's Office is reliant, perhaps more than any other public agency, upon a widespread public awareness both of its existence and, equally important, of its functions. A well informed public is the lifeblood of an Ombudsman.
When Mr. Mills took up duty his first task was to establish a presence for the Office of the Ombudsman among the countless thousands of our citizens who have dealings with the public services either regularly or occasionally. Within a short time Mr. Mills established his Office as one of the most high profile State agencies. The statistics bear out this contention; he has processed over 30,000 complaints from members of the public since he first took up office. He has managed in almost half of these either to provide a favourable resolution for the complainant or to provide some other assistance, such as directing complainants to other benefits, other schemes or other courses of action which could afford a resolution to their problems.
Perhaps the most notable way in which Mr. Mills ensured that the Ombudsman would become a household institution was his decision in 1985 to initiate regional visits by staff of his Office. These visits, which were well publicised in advance, afford members of the public an opportunity to discuss their complaints in confidence with staff from the Ombudsman's Office. The local visits have been organised in such a way as to ensure that all parts of the country receive adequate coverage.
Mr. Mills has made a major contribution to the enhancement of the citizens' rights and to the improvement of  our public services. We are all in his debt. I am sure Members will wish to join with me in expressing gratitude for a job well done and in wishing him a long, happy and fulfilled life after he relinquishes his office.
The Government has decided to propose Mr. Kevin Murphy for the position of Ombudsman because we feel certain that he is the most suitable choice. His experience and personal attributes fit him particularly well for the position. I should like to elaborate on one aspect of his background which I consider to be especially relevant here.
The Ombudsman is a statutory officer in whom considerable powers are vested. Yet, a perusal of his annual reports will indicate that most of his successes, both in terms of righting individual wrongs and in effecting more fundamental procedural or regulatory change, were effected through discussion, negotiation and persuasion. In short, a successful Ombudsman is a negotiator on behalf of the citizen with the public agency. Mr. Kevin Murphy has demonstrated that he possesses in abundance the skills necessary to discharge this function.
He has an unrivalled experience as a successful, senior negotiator on a wide range of industrial relations issues. He was a member of the Employer Labour Conference and more recently played a leading role in negotiating the Programme for National Recovery, the Programme for Economic and Social Progress and the recent Programme for Competitiveness and Work. In discharging his functions in the industrial relations area, Mr. Murphy showed himself to be a firm yet fair-minded negotiator on the macro issues of pay and conditions while retaining the capacity to consider sympathetically and imaginatively individual cases involving anomalies or injustice.
I must confess to some disappointment about certain comments which were made about the Government's nomination of Mr. Murphy, comments which were unfair and misinformed. In order to clarify matters I should like to put a few  pertinent facts on the record of this House. The suggestion has been made that because of his Civil Service background Mr. Murphy might be hampered in the discharge of the duties of Ombudsman, particularly in taking to task Departments or other agencies which have fallen short in their dealings with members of the public. In other words, he might be a “tame” Ombudsman. Anyone who has had dealings with Mr. Kevin Murphy, be they politicians, trade union leaders or other public service managers, would find that allegation derisory. In this connection, I must clear up one issue which has given rise to confusion. Mr. Murphy will cease to be a civil servant if appointed as Ombudsman.
Mr. Murphy's position in charge of public service management and development in the Department of Finance involved him in pushing forward many difficult, and sometimes controversial, policy initiatives in the sensitive areas of public service reform and the control of staff numbers and pay rates in the public service. In discharging these functions effectively, he frequently found it necessary to hold positions which conflicted with the views of his colleagues in other Departments and agencies. As will be readily acknowledged, he could not have carried out these tasks to the satisfaction of the Government if he had flinched from confrontation with his colleague public servants.
I cannot understand the notion that has been mooted that a public service background would somehow prove a hindrance in discharging the duties of Ombudsman. It seems to arise from an attitude which is more influenced by the television series, “Yes Minister”, than by the realities of the Irish Civil Service in the 1990s. This attitude feeds on the misconception that our Civil Service is some sort of “old boy network” where mutual solidarity takes precedence over the proper discharge of duty. The attitude which I detect in those comments is insulting to the integrity and intelligence of our senior civil servants. Moreover, it is not borne out by one shred of evidence. I feel sure that those who have made  these comments would never dream of insulting any other professional group in our society with such loose and groundless remarks. Is it the case that the Civil Service is to be the only profession from whose ranks we are not permitted to recruit an Ombudsman? The governing legislation does not envisage such a restriction.
It would not be in the Government's interest to have a less than fully effective Ombudsman. We made clear our commitment to championing the rights of the citizen. That theme runs through our Programme for a Partnership Government, it is central to our determination to deepen our democracy and is a key element of the strategic management initiative for the public service recently launched by the Taoiseach. We, as a Government, are happy to be judged on the extent to which we have improved the lot of the citizen and levelled the playing field for the individual in his or her dealings with the institutions of Government.
There is a convergence of purpose between the Ombudsman in the exercise of his statutory functions and the Government in pursuing its objective of empowering the citizen. What possible reason could we have for endorsing a nominee for Ombudsman who might be fearful of treading on the toes of public servants in his pursuit of equity for citizens? Government and Ombudsman both seek the same result; we share a common concern to see the rights of the citizen vindicated.
In my capacity as a public representative, I regularly come into contact with men and women who feel they have been let down in some way by our public services. Sometimes the systems fail them, occasionally it is a thoughtless or, perhaps, excessively officious public servant. Either way, they experience frustration. Many of these people are among the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society. If we are serious about creating a more compassionate society, we have an obligation to ensure that when people in these situations have dealings with our public services, they are treated with respect and courtesy and  that their problems are dealt with expeditiously. The Ombudsman is a key player in the advancement to a more citizen oriented public service.
Another comment which has been made is that because of his background as a civil servant, Mr. Murphy was somehow precluded from making his views known publicly on matters relating to the efficiency and effectiveness of the public service and, thereby, his suitability for appointment to the position of Ombudsman cannot be determined. Apart from the obvious and necessary constraint on commenting upon matters within the political domain, I am not aware of any restrictions, legal or otherwise, which would restrict a civil servant from expressing his or her views on any aspect of our public services. This Government, which is committed to a fully participative democracy, is only too pleased to see civil servants offer contributions to the debate about the development of public management. There is a rich vein of talent in the Civil Service; I do not think any of us would like to see it lie fallow.
For many years a number of journals have provided a platform for civil servants, as well as other interested commentators, to voice their opinions on matters concerning all aspects of public management. I refer to periodicals such as Administration, published by the Institute for Public Administration and Seirbhís Phoiblí, which is published by the Department of Finance. These publications are in the public domain and are available in the Oireachtas Library.
Mr. Kevin Murphy has blazed a trial over the past dozen years or so in making important contributions to public discourse on the major issues facing the public service. He has shown himself to be an intelligent analyst and critic of the systems and practices in place across the public service. His view of future progress is always imaginative while grounded in a thorough knowledge of reality, both administrative and political. He is committed to a reformist agenda.
His ideas are on record for all to see; they are cogent and convincing: he is an exponent of greater personal accountability,  a sharper focus on productivity, higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness and — significantly from the view of his proposed appointment as Ombudsman — a clear identification of genuine public needs as a critical input to policy development. To characterise Mr. Kevin Murphy as an anonymous civil servant, with an undefined attitude to the public service, is to display an ignorance of the debate about public management which has been ongoing for some years — a debate which has been carried on within the public domain.
I fail to understand the criticism levelled that this proposed appointment somehow sets a precedent which means that future Ombudsmen must come from within the ranks of the public service. The logic behind this suggestion is, to say the least, somewhat questionable. I am certain that when the question of replacing the Ombudsman next comes to be considered by a future Government, it will do what we have done: consider all possible candidates from all walks of life and then nominate the one which it considers best meets the requirements of the office at that particular time.
I expect that if Mr. Murphy becomes Ombudsman his annual reports will make a most valuable contribution towards the improvement of our public services. His critically important position in public service management, allied to his proven ability to analyse the faults and strengths of the public service, would make his comments well worth listening to.
The public service, like any large organisational entity, is complex in terms of its varying organisational and procedural characteristics, the individual culture of its component organisations and its management style, or more accurately, styles. Mr. Murphy's approach as Ombudsman would be informed by an immense knowledge and intelligent perception of these matters.
The Ombudsman is the conscience of the public service. His or her role is to serve as a constant reminder to public servants of their obligations towards their ultimate employers, the citizens of this  country. I know that Mr. Murphy will bring to this task the same determination, problem solving skills and sense of fair play which have been so characteristic of his performance in the senior positions which he has held in the Civil Service over ten years and more. He would make a truly remarkable contribution to the position of Ombudsman. I urge all Members of the House to support this motion.
Mr. Manning Mr. Manning
Mr. Manning: I welcome the Minister to the House. In opposing this motion I want to make two points clear at the outset. My opposition to the Government's proposal is not in any sense a personal reflection on Mr. Kevin Murphy. I do not know Mr. Murphy, but I have spoken to many people who do, people whose judgment I respect, people like Senator O'Toole for whose judgment on these matters I have great respect, and all of them consistently have spoken well of him. I have no reason not to believe that he is a person of very great ability and of the highest personal integrity. Anything I say will in no way reflect on that. I know the Minister accepts that.
The second reservation I am going to make at the outset is that I do not intend to allow the Minister have me fall into the honeyed trap he has set for me by saying that those who oppose this can in some way be seen as discriminating against the public service. That is not the case. I, like the Minister and my fellow Senators, know the public service very well and for the most part have the highest respect for the qualities that have given us a highly competent, disinterested, honest public service. In no sense is what I am saying a reflection on the public service.
I oppose the appointment of Mr. Murphy as Ombudsman for two reasons. The first and most important is the process through which he was appointed. I note that the Minister in his very reasonable and eloquent speech did not once refer to the way this appointment came about or to the total absence of any consultation with the Opposition parties on the appointment of a parliamentary commissioner,  that is, somebody who holds an appointment in large part through having behind him or her the approval of the Oireachtas.
When we look back as the Minister did in his speech at the way in which the role of the Ombudsman has evolved over the past ten years, we see the way the office of Ombudsman has come from being remote, from being a process not very well known, from being a word not much understood, to a situation today where a very large number of people have had recourse to the Ombudsman and an even greater number of people understand what the office of Ombudsman is all about and where, most of all, there is a very strong sense of confidence that the Office of the Ombudsman is run to the highest possible standards and that it exists to serve the interests of the general public.
A great deal of the credit for the acceptance the very high position of Ombudsman now holds must reside with the first and only holder to date of the office of Ombudsman, Mr. Michael Mills. Mr. Mills would be the first to say that a great deal of the credit must go to his dedicated, hard working, highly qualified staff, some of whom have been with him since the foundation of the office, while others have joined at various stages throughout the lifetime of the office.
When the office of Ombudsman came into existence some academics, as Senator Roche then was, were writing learned papers and various articles on the Ombudsman. At that time the concept was foreign to most in this country and the genius of the appointment of Mr. Michael Mills to the post was that it immediately associated a widely known, highly respected and greatly trusted figure with the office. Ordinary citizens could easily identify with him and trust him and he was seen to be generally on their side.
The Ombudsman has had to fight a number of battles to establish the position, and that was to be expected. In the early stages there were some in the public service who adapted easily while others  did not. They resented what they saw as an intrusion upon accepted practices and were slow to face up to the sense of accountability and openness which the existence of the new office entailed. Such changes are not confined to the public service. Every institution when faced with change will have large sections which inevitably resist.
The judgment which characterised the early years of the Office of the Ombudsman was finely balanced. If the Office of the Ombudsman had become a crusading office it would have defeated its purpose. The office was not there to make the law or to openly advocate changes in the law; it was not there to be a scourge on civil servants; it was there to ensure that cothrom na Féinne or fair play within the law operated, that whatever was done was even handed.
It would have been easy in the early stages for a publicity hungry Ombudsman to have taken public swipes at the Civil Service and civil servants which would have found ready coverage in the media. He could have become a crusader but he did not. He ensured that fairness was seen to characterise all the activities of the office, and he was fair to civil servants. He also ensured that the Ombudsman did not become a soft touch for every hard luck story and that there was a proper weeding out process to ensure that frivolous or vexatious cases did not take up public time or cost public money. He ensured that the fairness of the administrative procedures within the law as laid down by the Oireachtas was under scrutiny. A great achievement which Mr. Michael Mills is handing on to his successor is that the Office of the Ombudsman has established a reputation for even handed fair play. It is not against civil servants nor on the side of the public; it is there to ensure that administrative justice is administered.
As the Minister pointed out, we have seen a great extension in the activities of the Ombudsman over the years. This was not easy to achieve because, as might be expected, there was a great deal of resistance. Those of us who were in the Dáil or Seanad in the 1980s will remember  that a great deal of our time with constituents was taken up with matters such as telephone bills. Many people experienced frustration when they were faced with an enormous bill which they knew they could not have incurred and the stonewalling resistance and inflexibility of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs or Telecom Éireann. A great deal of the credit for ensuring that there is a reasonably accountable system now in place must go to the Ombudsman.
We can take comfort that the Ombudsman decided early on that the office was not going to be rooted in Dublin. It was decided that the office would visit various part of the country and would use modern advertising and communications techniques to ensure that people who felt that they might need the services of the Office could do so easily. Mr. Michael Mills, who is now retiring, has laid firm and durable foundations and traditions within which the Office can grow.
We have also seen the extension of the concept of an ombudsman into other industries. They are being encouraged to apply the techniques of the Ombudsman to their own activities, such as insurance and banking, to ensure there is some form of a hearing and low cost recourse. It has not gone nearly far enough in either case, but at least a good start has been made.
I am opposing this appointment because of the lack of consultation between the Minister and the Opposition parties or even his parliamentary party. He did not once mention this in his speech because there was no consultation. This was a Government decision taken within the Cabinet for Government reasons without any vestige of courtesy to the Opposition or any discussion taking place even with his own party.
I have known this Minister a long time and courtesy is one of his hallmarks and consultation is something by which he lives. What happened in this case? If there had been consultation I am sure any reservations Opposition Members may have had about the person now being  proposed as Ombudsman might have been smoothed out. Members of my party who have worked with Mr. Murphy have a high regard for him. It is the absence of consultation in appointing what is, in effect, a parliamentary commissioner who will hold his appointment from the President on the recommendation of the Houses of the Oireachtas, which is at the nub of my opposition to this appointment.
There was consultation in 1984. When Mr. Michael Mills was proposed for the post, the Taoiseach of the day, Dr. Garrett FitzGerald, spoke with and obtained the approval from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Charles Haughey. There was wide agreement and support for that appointment. On this occasion, the decision was announced after a Cabinet meeting. There was not even the courtesy of a delay after the Cabinet meeting when the Opposition could have been sounded out. It was announced on the One O'Clock News that the Government decided to recommend Mr. Kevin Murphy to be appointed as Ombudsman. That was a gross discourtesy and a lack of sensitivity to the feelings of Members of both Houses, the process and the office itself and has ensured the Minister has not got unanimous support from both Houses for this recommendation. Indeed, that process has weakened the office.
The Minister spoke at some length about Mr. Murphy's background. I would not regard his background or qualifications as central to my opposition to his appointment. Mr. Murphy is a distinguished civil servant. He has served all his career in the Civil Service. He is undoubtedly in some ways a product of the Civil Service culture. However, I accept what the Minister has said; the evidence is there to support him. Mr. Murphy has been a significant agent of change within the Civil Service. The principle of appointing somebody from within the service to act as a watchdog over it, if not opposed, needs to be teased out further.
The Minister gave us certain assurances today. Mr. Murphy will no longer  be a civil servant; that is fair enough, that was to be expected; he has been an agent of change within the Civil Service and he will apply these same qualities in the full prosecution of his new office. That may be the case, but a question of credibility will hang over the appointment of a leading senior civil servant to this office. Is somebody who has spent his life in the Civil Service the best person to ensure civil servants act strictly within the law and the framework of administration as approved by both Houses? Mr. Murphy will find his credibility as Ombudsman has been damaged by the process of his appointment and his background.
Mr. Murphy will bring many fine qualities to the Office of the Ombudsman. He will bring with him the universal acceptance of all parties of his integrity. However, I have grave reservations about the possibility of his general acceptance among the public as someone who will have the same acceptance of independence, detachment and having a fresh and open mind to this position as someone coming from outside the public service.
The argument about the background, the Civil Service culture and the question of poachers turning gamekeepers — the reverse may be the case here — is the weaker of the two arguments. My main objection to this appointment is that — and the Minister did not attempt to defend this point — it was done in a way that was discourteous to all parties in both Houses and totally overlooked the fact that the Ombudsman holds his position by virtue of the support of both Houses. The absence of consultation and the discourtesy which went with that, have needlessly led to a certain amount of divisiveness. It is largely for that reason that I will oppose this motion.
When the debate ends, there is little doubt that Mr. Murphy will be appointed Ombudsman. I wish him well. I know he will act to the highest standards and with the greatest of integrity. His appointment will create no danger to the Office of the Ombudsman. However, I wish it had been done differently. The Minister should not have put the Opposition in  this position and he knows it. He did not even attempt to address this issue in his speech. Is taking somebody who is the conscience and watchdog of the Civil Service from within its ranks the most advisable step? That issue could be debated either way, but there cannot be two views on consultation.
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche: I listened with great interest to Senator Manning. I can understand his points, although I would dispute some of them. They were made in a most tempered manner and in a way that would do the least damage to the Office of the Ombudsman.
I am pleased to support the motion for three reasons. First, as far back as the late 1970s, I became the first Irish person to be admitted to membership of the International Ombudsman Institute. Since then I have taken great interest in the worldwide spread of the office, especially in its arrival to Ireland. Second, unlike other Members, I have known Kevin Murphy for 20 years, both as a public servant and as a private individual. He has the qualities and experience needed to make an excellent Ombudsman. He will be a worthy successor to Michael Mills, who has graced that office since his inspired appointment ten years ago.
Since the Act is silent on where the Ombudsman should be drawn from, it is important to set down a few markers in this regard. It is not sustainable to suggest that someone from within the ranks of the Civil Service or the wider public service, because they have served and gained their experience there, should be excluded from being appointed as Ombudsman. The all-party committee discussed this issue ten years ago. It decided there should be a wide choice with regard to this appointment. It would be a fundamental error to accept Senator Manning's point that an ex-civil servant would put a question mark in the public consciousness or perception as to their capacity to fulfil the office of Ombudsman. I believe Mr. Murphy has all the necessary qualities, not least the capacity to get to the central core of any issue,  and the same drive for justice for the individual, which I and Senator Manning have, and which Mr. Michael Mills brought to the office.
The third reason I support the motion is that it affords an opportunity to debate the Ombudsman Act, 1980, an opportunity which has not been available for the past ten years. This Act is fundamentally flawed in a number of areas of importance, and is flawed in a way which requires continued attention.
The institution of the ombudsman is a remarkable example of the transferability of a public institution from one political culture to another. The first Ombudsman was appointed in Sweden towards the end of the 18th century. At that time the office became a remarkable example of an idea which had generated in one culture and was successfully transferred to a second. The Swedish King, Charles, having fled to Constantinople following a reversal in his war with the Russian Tzar, Peter, established the first ombudsman to keep an eye on the affairs of government in Stockholm on his own behalf. He never had justice in mind for the ordinary people, rather he had in mind rapacious counts at home who were pillaging his patrimony. The King was influenced in the establishment of the office by an Islamic office, the Caliph, which was charged with the task of ensuring justice was done in all dealings by all public servants. That concept of justice is the bedrock of the institution of the ombudsman.
The institution remained essentially Scandinavian, indeed almost Swedish in nature until the early 1960s when it was adopted in our system of government by New Zealand, a country which is notable for administrative innovation. While the idea was taking root in New Zealand, a debate on the creation of an Irish Ombudsman was initiated, indeed the Irish debate preceded the debate in New Zealand. A conference at that time, sponsored by the IPA, discussed the issue which, with other discussions, were months ahead of the debate in New Zealand. However, the characteristic conservatism  which is such a feature of Irish public administration and our lack of self confidence as a nation meant that the idea was shelved in Ireland for many years.
The idea of an Ombudsman was next debated in the preparation of the Public Service Organisation Review Group which produced the Devlin report. Again, conservatism won the day. The group compiling the Devlin report proposed a half way house, a commissioner for administrative justice, believing the Irish administrative system, especially the common law system to which the country belonged, could not accommodate the Ombudsman. How wrong the group was in that regard.
While this was taking place in Ireland the idea of the Ombudsman was being imported through Australia, to the provinces of Canada and into various USA State administrations. It was also being translated into virtually every one of the constitutions of the emerging Commonwealth countries.
A political initiative by a Government backbencher, Fergus O'Brien, in 1975 finally brought the idea of the Ombudsman onto the floor of the Dáil and into the Houses of the Oireachtas. The motion proposed by the then Deputy O'Brien was agreed and an all party committee was established to discuss the idea. While that committee was severely constrained by the advices it received from the Civil Service secretariat and from the then Department of the Public Service, it struck a blow for administrative innovation and proposed the creation of an Irish Ombudsman. It took almost a further ten years before the office was established.
The Ombudsman Act, 1980, was marred by the same type of conservatism which constrained the work of the all party committee and which was evident in the briefing material supplied by the Department of the Public Service at the time, both to the all party committee and to the Ministers who brought the Ombudsman Act, 1980, through the Houses of the Oireachtas. I have had the unusual privilege of gaining access to all  that material, not through the Civil Service but through ex Ministers. It provides an example of conservatism and of how an institution or a series of institutions can defend what they regard as their own narrow interest.
The attention of the Ombudsman was initially confined to the Civil Service because of this conservatism. The remit of the office was unnecessarily constrained by a limiting definition of the form of action to be investigated. A further limitation was the silence of the Act on powers of inspection and prosecution for the office. There was also a questionable procedure laid down in the Act for the appointment of the staff to the Office of the Ombudsman. There is a litany of other errors and shortcomings in the Act. They have not impeded the Ombudsman thus far, but they are nonetheless in existence and they require attention.
In the ten years since Ireland's first Ombudsman was appointed some, but by no means all, of the infirmities of the original Act have been addressed. The most welcome change has been the extension of the remit of the Ombudsman to the local authorities and the health boards. These public authorities had been initially excluded because it was felt that their inclusion would have meant that the Ombudsman would be overloaded by complaints. If there was ever an inversion of logic that must surely be it. If these were areas of public administration which were subject to complaints, the Ombudsman should have addressed them ab initio.
There remain some important jurisdictional exclusions which should be reviewed, and ended. The most immediate change in jurisdiction which should be made is in respect of prison services. Section 5 (1) (a) and Part II of the First Schedule of the Ombudsman Act, 1980, exclude correctional institutions from the supervision of the Ombudsman. This should be ended. It is seriously out of line with progressive international practice. In addition, people do not cease to have rights because they have been imprisoned. Furthermore, the system of  visiting committees is insufficient, especially regarding the pursuit of complaints.
The exclusion of the prison service from the provisions of the Act was first mooted in briefing to the all party committee provided by Civil Service Departments, and the dead hand of the Department of Justice was more than evident in that briefing. The argument was made that the Ombudsman would be swamped by complaints made by prisoners intent on making the life of the prison authorities increasingly difficult.
It is known to all that the Ombudsman has discretion in the pursuit of a complaint, and if the complaint is either vexatious or frivolous, the Ombudsman can reject it. The experience of other jurisdictions proves that the line of argument suggesting prisoners should not be allowed full access was false, invalid and dangerous.
The exclusion of correctional institutions is not the only exclusion to the Act. Senator O'Toole has indicated an interest in the area of aliens and the manner in which they are received in this country. A person who presents him or herself to immigration authorities has few rights, including no automatic right of access to the Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman has been created by the Houses of the Oireachtas to look after justice for all people who find themselves on this island. Given the difficulties which have arisen in this area, the Office of the Ombudsman is an ideal institution to first consider any complaints which arise.
On the subject of jurisdiction I argued, and I retain the view, that the exclusion of the Garda Síochána from the remit of the Ombudsman was a mistake. Even allowing for the establishment of the Garda complaints procedure, it is not right that any part of the public service should be treated separately or specially. Justice has a common rule across the whole of public administration and a common complaints system across the whole of the public service would be beneficial not only to the public, but ultimately most beneficial to the public service itself.
 While the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman has been extended to the health boards, the Office is still not allowed to review cases involving clinical judgment. The Ombudsman can examine a complaint regarding incorrect form filling in a hospital, but if the patient has the wrong limb removed the Ombudsman has no right to review the facts of such a case. There are those who argue that the Ombudsman could not be trusted with cases involving clinical judgment. However, such arguments do not stand up to examination because in other jurisdictions where Ombudsmen have been allowed to consider the issue of clinical judgment they employ specialist expertise.
The discussions of the all party committee on this issue are interesting. It was suggested that clinical judgment was inappropriate for scrutiny by the Ombudsman. The dissatisfaction noted with this exclusion in the literature on the Ombudsman institution was completely ignored both in the briefing to the committee and subsequently by our legal drafters. As cases of complaint in the health area will inevitably involve the crossing and recrossing of boundaries between the medical and administration areas I see no compelling reason for a continuation of this exclusion.
However, I would not take the argument that the Ombudsman should second guess every clinical judgment. Clearly, if a person has a wrong limb removed or if a grossly inappropriate view is taken by a hospital or a medical practitioner in a health board as to the illness a patient has, then patients — who are all too powerless before the phalanxes of the medical profession — would need the support of an Ombudsman in their attempts to get justice. Medical professionals can err like professionals in any other area and I cannot believe that it is possible for an Ombudsman to take a qualitative view as to the decisions made by, for example, a civil engineer working in a local authority while not being able to take a view as to judgments brought to bear by medical practitioners.
 The Ombudsman's powers in the area of jurisdiction require attention and there are a number of specific points that should be attended to. My primary concern is the silence of the Ombudsman Act on powers to inspect and prosecute. I was very flattered some years back — when the last thing on my mind was to become a Senator — when Members of this House made reference in the debate on the Ombudsman Act to something I had written on this very issue. The right to inspect closed institutions, prisons or places of detention is only one aspect of inspection. It goes further. It would be beneficial if the Ombudsman could inspect Government offices, mental institutions and hospitals in the interests of creating a truly open public service.
Like Senator Manning, I would abhor the idea of an Ombudsman simply becoming a self-seeking publicist but in other countries, administrations and jurisdictions where Ombudsmen have powers of inspection and prosecution, there is no evidence whatsoever that these have been misused. There is no evidence either to support the contention that if these powers were given to our Ombudsman they would be misused or abused.
The silence in the main Act on the right to prosecute is another long standing concern of mine. While I would not necessarily advocate giving the Ombudsman the right to prosecute a case, the system which applies in Denmark and Sweden, where the Ombudsman can request that the State prosecution authorities should bring cases against agencies and individuals who, during the course of an investigation, are found to be guilty of some serious wrongdoing, is a precedent that we could well follow.
There have certainly been cases in the recent past where areas of public administration in this country have been found wanting, to say the least. It would be a worthwhile extension of the concept of individual responsibility if the Ombudsman could be given the power to urge prosecution in certain cases. Countries with legal systems akin to our own have moved in this direction and I have heard  no compelling explanation as to why we should be out of step with them.
This is not the day for a full review of the Ombudsman Act nor, indeed, does the time available allow us to make a comprehensive review. After ten years, however, the Act requires a review and substantial redrafting. Ireland's Ombudsman Act was conceived in an atmosphere which I referred to elsewhere as “paranoid conservatism”. There was something approaching hysteria in parts of the public service as to the impact that the office would have. It was as if the sky was going to fall once the Ombudsman's office was established. We have had a fine Ombudsman in operation for the last ten years and the sky has not fallen nor has the civilised world as we knew it in 1984 come to an end. The conservatism which was the hallmark of the whole debate up to 1984 has no place in our discussions now.
The Ombudsman was one of those clear examples where politicians led the debate. I pay tribute to Fergus O'Brien and Ritchie Ryan who sponsored the debate because the latter was somewhat frustrated as Minister for the Public Service at the time. He could not lead the debate due to considerations of Cabinet responsibility. It is right that we should pay tribute to both of them for their considerable insight and the fact that they showed that politicians can sometimes lead.
Senator Manning kindly referred to articles I wrote on the Ombudsman ten years ago. Going back over the literature it is clear that the first references to the idea of the institution were political. This is an office that was created by a political initiative because Members of both Houses as constituency politicians were aware that our public institutions, fine and good as they are, can err all too frequently as all human institutions can. This institution was created because those who preceded us in both Houses wished justice to be part and parcel of public administration in Ireland.
I would have no fears — and nobody who is interested in public administration should have any fear — of a review committee  being set up now to look at the whole operation of the Ombudsman. Such a review should examine how we can take the various heterogenous administrative tribunals, complaint commissions, the Garda Commissioners and the Ombudsman commission in together to ensure that there is not just one safety net but many.
The Ombudsman institution has served this country well but as practising politicians we know that people are queueing up at our clinics with simple matters of administration. People should not have to humiliate themselves by going to public representatives to seek justice on such matters. It would be in the interest of politics, administrative reform and, above all, the people if we reviewed the Ombudsman institution and took it a step further by making it a progressive institution which the people deserve.
Mr. O'Toole Mr. O'Toole
Mr. O'Toole: This Government needs a bit of help at the moment so I am happy to offer them some independent support. I wholeheartedly welcome the proposal before us. I welcome the general principle of the Ombudsman which sounds like a sexist term, but we are stuck with it.
Mr. Roche Mr. Roche
Mr. Roche: It is a Swedish word.
Mr. O'Toole Mr. O'Toole
Mr. O'Toole: I presume the Minister can elaborate on her views on that later.
Ms E. Fitzgerald Ms E. Fitzgerald
Ms E. Fitzgerald: Ombudsperson.
Mr. O'Toole Mr. O'Toole
Mr. O'Toole: The principle of the appointment of an Ombudsman is supported and subscribed to by Members on all sides of the House. Its major benefit in a democratic society is that it creates a natural block between the development of rampant clientelism among politicians and public representatives and gives clear and direct access for members of the public to have alleged flaws and faults investigated.
At some stage I hope the idea of the Ombudsman will be developed not quite in the way that was outlined by Senator Dick Roche, which is to expand on the  area of responsibility of the Ombudsman, but in a different way by appointing other Ombudsmen to deal with other areas of responsibility. The financial institutions, for instance, have appointed an ombudsman to look after problems arising from the financial services area. On occasion I have called for the appointment of an education ombudsman because with one million people involved in full time education in the State, as well as parents and institutions, the education area could do with that kind of transparency and accountability.
I welcome uninhibitedly and unrestrainedly the proposal to appoint Mr. Kevin Murphy as the Ombudsman. In my view, Mr. Kevin Murphy is a person of the ultimate integrity, a man of great intelligence and a man with a breadth of experience critical to the job he is about to undertake.
I am diametrically opposed to the line which may have been taken by Senator Manning. I listened carefully to his measured contribution and I will deal with some of the issues he raised. I applaud that he raised them in a way which did not impinge on the integrity of Mr. Kevin Murphy or his ability to do the job. It is fair to say that Senator Manning focused on different areas.
Mr. Murphy is a conscientious operator and is important to the image of the public service. This image has been diminished over the last 15 to 20 years; I have referred to that in this House and elsewhere. I have argued with senior officials in many Departments, who perhaps misinterpreted my complaints, particularly about the Department of Finance. I feel this Department is too interested in figures and does not consider the social and human context on which those figures sometimes impact.
In appointing Mr. Murphy as Ombudsman we are giving the job to a safe pair of hands and to a person with a great sense of public service, which is the single most important issue at this time. He will discharge his responsibilities in this post and establish his reputation in it. I have  no doubt that when he is replaced in years to come, people like Senator Manning and I will applaud his work. He is as tough as nails but also caring and sensitive. My dealings with him have always been from the other side of the table. I have never been on the same side of an argument with him. During my years of dealing with him there has been constant aggravation and argument between us. I have always argued the case for public servants with him. I do not know anybody more adequately qualified to take on the public service and public servants than Mr. Murphy. He has been doing this job for many years.
I wish to speak about the views I have heard him articulate and the direction in which the public service should go. He has shown, during national negotiations and elsewhere, a sense of mission and of wanting to develop and direct in a positive, open, transparent, responsible and accountable way the work of the public service. As a public servant he has shown — I do not use these words lightly — a sense of vision and mission about where the public service should go, what its responsibilities should be and what it should deliver to the people. He has at all times insisted that the public service give service and value to taxpayers. He has taken unpopular stances and has sought in awkward situations to push for greater productivity, flexibility, openness to change and restructuring in the public service. These are all on his record and stand as a monument to him.
Long after he will have left the public service, changes will be in place which will have been initiated by his thinking and proposals. In a practical way he has been there, he knows the tricks and is the quintessential and prototype poacher turned gamekeeper. There are no places in the public service where people can hide from his eyes, ears and experience. He will be able to turn over the stones in the quiet corners, find information and get to the bottom of issues. He has done this superbly already.
I suspect my job as a trade union negotiator will be easier now that he has moved on to other pastures. If people say  there is a conflict of interest here, I plead guilty. I have no doubt that he will bring his personality to the job. Mr. Michael Mills has done an extraordinary job in establishing this post and creating a sense of public confidence and trust in it. Mr. Murphy will build on and develop this.
I agree with one of the central points raised by Senator Manning. I have no doubt that this appointment is appropriate and good and I welcome it but I take on board Senator Manning's point that such an appointment should be made in consultation with the other political parties. I have no difficulty supporting Senator Manning on this. However, the Government which appointed Mr. Mills and the Government which appointed Mr. Murphy made it clear that neither appointment was made on the basis of party or political affiliation.
I compliment Senator Manning on the sensitive way he dealt with his objections to this appointment. He has objected in a way which does not take from the reputation of the person being appointed. This is important so that people will retain trust in the person appointed. This underlines the fact that this post should never be used as a reward for political support or endeavours. I do not know what Kevin Murphy's politics are, if any, but I know they will not impact on the way he will carry out his job. The more effective and efficient a civil servant is, the better hidden are his or her politics.
On many occasions I have defended public servants and I gladly fulfil this role again today. Mr. Murphy and other senior civil servants are being told anonymously that they should not be considered for this job and they do not have the opportunity to fight back. I wish to give voice to the views of such people. This country has had a proud record in Europe of extraordinary input by a combination of politicians and public servants at various levels. Nobody would say that people such as T. K. Whitaker were motivated by anything less than a high sense of patriotism, as it is best manifested in the public service, and a sense of public accountability and public service.
It is fundamentally wrong to take the  view that all public servants, because of the work they do, should be excluded from consideration for this position. I have listened carefully to the objections articulated today and was glad this view was not expressed. In the other House there were objections to public servants at any level being considered for such posts. Public servants are denied too many rights, even in the area of participation in democracy. A previous speaker from the Government side said that prisoners have rights as well. There is a diminution of the rights of prisoners and it is not correct to say that they should have the same rights as others.
I understand that people who are not citizens but have dealings with Departments have access to the Ombudsman. It was my understanding that the Ombudsman's services are not restricted to citizens but are also available to people who deal with public departments and Departments of State.
As I said, by supporting the appointment of Mr. Kevin Murphy as Ombudsman we will be doing a good deed on behalf of the citizenry of this country. I have no doubt that he will discharge this job very efficiently and effectively. I would stake my reputation on the fact that he will establish his reputation in this role. I compliment the Government.
Senator Manning's point about wider consultation in the making of such appointments is correct. It would take nothing from the validity of the appointment but would add something. Perhaps this could be taken on board.
I support this proposal and look forward to Mr. Murphy's first report as Ombudsman. It is appropriate to finish by thanking Mr. Michael Mills for the extraordinarily good work he has done for many elected representatives, for numerous people, for democracy and for giving a sense of trust in the public service. I look forward to Kevin Murphy doing the same.
Mr. Calnan Mr. Calnan
Mr. Calnan: I support this motion. I compliment the retiring Ombudsman, Mr. Michael Mills, and his staff. This post is an important part of democracy.  The element of independence and the trust which people have in bringing their cases to the Ombudsman for adjudication is of the utmost importance. An important point is that there is no charge for this service. Sometimes people feel they cannot afford to make inquiries about specific matters.
The Minister told us that there have been in the region of 30,000 complaints from members of the public since Mr. Mills first took office. That is a tremendous number of complaints and it was not an easy task to handle them. Mr. Mills and his staff have done a tremendous job over the years. When people feel aggrieved and bring their complaint to the Ombudsman, it is not always decided in their favour but still they are often happy to accept that as the final decision.
There are many areas the Ombudsman can deal with but I would like to see more areas included. There should not be any restrictions on areas into which the Ombudsman can inquire.
I welcome the idea of having the Ombudsman deal with centres outside of Dublin. The Ombudsman and his staff have a centre in Cork. However, I would like to see that expanded. There are many State offices which could be used by the Ombudsman or his staff.
The protection of citizens' rights is tied to the work of the Ombudsman. In a democracy we need to have an area where a person can complain to an independent body. Where complaints have been made, the Ombudsman has given very good advice and perhaps directed people to another benefit to which they were entitled or another scheme or course of action.
Sometimes there is no cut and dried answer. Often careful discussion, negotiation and persuasion are required before the Ombudsman can come to a final decision.
Mr. Kevin Murphy will not make any mistakes. His experience in the Department of Finance and in negotiations — for example, the Programmes for National Recovery, the Programme for  Economic and Social Progress and Competitiveness and Work — mean that he is well qualified. It gives me great pleasure to recommend Kevin Murphy for appointment by the President to the Office of the Ombudsman.
Mr. Quinn Mr. Quinn
Mr. Quinn: I welcome the new Ombudsman, Mr. Kevin Murphy, and wish him well. I also congratulate the previous Ombudsman, Mr. Michael Mills, on a job exceptionally well done.
I would like to use this debate to focus attention on a broader issue of which the Office of the Ombudsman forms only a part, albeit a very necessary part, that is, the pressing need to make the public service more customer driven. There are vast advantages to be gained from doing that and not just for the public service itself.
Traditionally, the idea that the public service is there to serve customers has been quite foreign to the whole public sector mentality. The tradition has been that the main function of the public service was to guard the public purse. Many of the procedures and practices were devised on the basis that the public service and its users would only defraud the Exchequer if they were not watched very carefully.
In the past, the public service did not regard its clients as customers because the clients usually did not pay directly for the service they received. They did not really have a choice about using the public service because there was no other competitor to which they could have gone. As a result, many public services are managed at a great distance from their customers. The customer is not seen as the boss. That leads to mistakes and misunderstandings and also, I suggest, to considerable waste in the running of the public service.
The Office of the Ombudsman addresses a small portion of that problem. It offers a way of redress the wrongs suffered by citizens who are the victims of administrative errors and malpractice. As such, it performs a necessary function. However, one thing it does not do — and was never designed to do — is to bring  the public service closer to the customer. The very nature of the process, which is the adversarial one of the claimant seeking redress of a wrong, is even likely to strengthen the “us and them” gap which exists too often in the public service mentality. The normal relationship between a service and its customers should not be adversarial but rather cooperative.
The customers of any company or service, whether in the public or private sectors, have a tremendous amount to offer those who are running that service. I found that the customers are usually the real experts in retailing; those of us who are in the business are usually only trotting after them. We are hampered by the fact that we stand on the other side of the counter and that blocks our view.
Very early in my business career I learned a great lesson of humility. One could plan away to one's heart's content and everything looked fine. However, very often when the plans were put into practice, various problems were encountered. There were snags which just were not anticipated around the boardroom table. By carefully watching the customers it could be seen immediately that things were not working out as intended.
I discovered that customers knew more than we did about what they wanted and how it should be provided. It was even more surprising that customers were delighted to help us get it right. Most of our customers were delighted to come on board our team and to work for it without payment. That is why I started customer panels in my business and I have been holding them for about 20 years.
I sit down every week with a group of customers who volunteer to talk about what they found in our stores. I squirm with embarrassment when I hear what is going wrong. Some of the best ideas and some of the best money making ideas have come from the lips of customers at those meetings. These weekly visits to the confessional keep me close to the customer and represent some of the most productive time I spend. I would never think of taking a major initiative in business without talking it over with our customers  first. Many of the initiatives that came from the customers themselves have been very worthwhile.
We should extend this idea to the public service. The management in all Civil Service Departments and State agencies should be required to hold regular meetings with a sample of their clients. I am not talking about commissioning a market research report. They should go directly to their market place and meet their customers head on. How many civil servants have ever done that? I suggest that the Minister and I know that the answer is probably none. There may have been exceptions but I have not encountered them.
This system would give those involved a handle on reality that would transform the public service in a short period. It would transform the way in which the public service works and would also lead to substantial savings in public spending. It would lead to equally substantial improvements in the quality of the public service. If the Secretary of any Department is interested in trying this, I would be delighted to share my personal experience with them. The bonus of this approach would be fewer calls on the Office of the Ombudsman. He would then have an easier job as the problems would not be created in the first place.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Ms E. Fitzgerald) Noel Treacy
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Ms E. Fitzgerald): This was an excellent debate and I heard much that I will take on board. Before discussing the debate, I congratulate Senator Crowley on his splendid performance in the European elections and also my party colleague, Senator Gallagher, who did very well.
Mr. Michael Mills expanded the idea of the Ombudsman with great distinction. I have had dealings with him and his office over the years in relation to customers of the service. The quality of the service they offer is superb. They can be get to the heart of a problem and change administrative practice. When an individual presents a problem, it is important not to just give redress to that individual but also to ask what is wrong with the system  that generates such problems. That is obvious in Mr. Michael Mills' work.
I also had dealings with Michael Mills in my own work on the preparation of freedom of information legislation. The discussions we had with him at various seminars to tease out this issue have been invaluable. Mr. Kevin Murphy, who is a civil servant of the highest integrity, will fill his shoes very well.
The relationship between the State and its customers, as Senator Quinn so eloquently put it, is extremely important. There was a poor turnout in the recent elections which says something about how people view the State and the democratic process. This can sometimes be as a result of people's day to day experience dealing over the counter or at the hatch — that horrible word — with the public service. Those who work in the public service are often poorly paid people trying to do a job under great pressure and under inflexible rules and regulations. The Ombudsman can make important improvements in this area.
Senator Quinn spoke about customer panels. Recently the National Economic and Social Forum spent a day examining the delivery of social services and discussing the idea of involving customers of public services in that delivery. For example, unemployed people could be involved in the design of information leaflets as they are the consumers. Those who attend at labour exchanges or health centres could be involved in the delivery process. The idea of the customer panels is excellent.
I have responsibility for an area in the Programme for Government entitled broadening our democracy. I take this responsibility seriously. We have published the Ethics in Public Office Bill and I hope to bring it to the Seanad later this year. I am pleased that the Ombudsman will be a member of the independent commission set up under that Bill. It ties in very well with his role as an independent public official.
I am actively working on the preparation of freedom of information legislation. At present only the Ombudsman  is entitled to see the whole file for any citizen. We should broaden this so that any citizen dealing with the State would be entitled to see their file and pursue their own cause. We need to move away from a public service culture which has been marked by the Official Secrets Act to one which is about openness, sharing and volunteering information and empowerment. I support what Senator Quinn has said on that.
Senator Manning spoke of the difficulties involved in appointing a public servant to the office of Ombudsman and the difficulties the public might have in perceiving independence. There have been tributes to Mr. Kevin Murphy on all sides of this House and in the other House. I have worked with him in his capacity as Secretary in the Department of Finance. I have great admiration for his abilities, independence of judgment and revolutionary zeal in shaking up the public service. Which he will take to this office. The public need have no fears about his appointment.
I hope that nobody will take from this debate — I am sure it was not intended — any sense of lack of trust in Mr. Kevin Murphy's appointment. He will do his job excellently and the public will be well served. It is important that we do not rule out any citizen, public servant or otherwise, from the possibility of being appointed to this position. I must confess my own interest in this. Both my parents were civil servants and my first job was in the Civil Service.
I have always had great respect for the Civil Service tradition of absolute independence and serving the country and different political masters impartially to the best of their ability. We cannot say that somebody like Mr. Kevin Murphy, who has served at the highest levels of the public service, would not also have that strong public service tradition, that quiet and unsung patriotism which our public servants bring to their work. That will also be brought to this office. It would be unwittingly demeaning to our public service to believe that public servants do not bring the very highest standards of independence to their work and to an  independent statutory office such as the National Economic and Social Forum.
It is interesting to look at international practice in the appointment of ombudsmen. Ombudsmen in jurisdictions such as New Zealand, Alaska, Switzerland, Spain, Lichtenstein, Austria and the UK, including the local government ombudsman and the ombudsmen in Wales and Scotland, have all been former public servants. People in other jurisdictions have successfully made this transition and our public service tradition is strongly impartial.
The Labour Party was criticised for appointing people from outside the public service as advisers. I served briefly in that capacity with former Minister. Mrs. Eileen Desmond, in 1982. However, the independence of the Civil Service is only strengthened by not asking its members to be political advisers and by bringing in outsiders who leave with their political masters. If one requires political advice the adviser should come from the political system. It is very important that we should not in any sense attempt to politicise the Civil Service.
On the Continent it is common for politicians to appoint advisers through the cabinet system. We are familiar with the operation of that system in the European Commission. The cabinet system of government has great strengths as a result of its combination of outside expertise and the tradition, expertise and absolute political impartiality of the public service. The marriage of such outside and inside elements is extremely fruitful as I have found from my experience as a civil servant, adviser and public representative.
It was pioneered to some extent by the former Taoiseach, Dr. Garret FitzGerald, in the early 1970s and it has continued through different Administrations. We should not be ashamed of it because it strengthens the tradition of political impartiality. It offers a new outlook on issues and the Civil Service respects a system that has an appropriate place in the political system. One of the provisions in the Ethics in Public Office Bill is that political advisers, who are appointed from outside the public service  by Ministers, will leave with their Ministers. There will be a statutory prohibition on the appointment to the Civil Service of former advisers. That has been the practice of successive Administrations for many years and it is good to put it on a statutory basis. Although I have digressed somewhat from the role of the Ombudsman, it is necessary to put the Civil Service tradition of political impartiality on record. It is very precious and is envied by many other jurisdictions. We have had that tradition since the foundation of the State and we have been well served by it.
It is important that the Ombudsman is effective, knows the ropes, does not pull his punches, understands how the public service should operate, can see into administrative nooks and crannies and knows the mechanisms for delivering change. Mr. Michael Mills has pioneered the role of the Ombudsman and under his wise stewardship we have seen an extension of the role. Senator Roche in his excellent contribution made a number of points which deserve consideration. We must open the doors and allow light to fall on all aspects of public administration, including areas which have traditionally remained secret under the pretext of national security. It is important to look at how we can extend the powers and mechanisms of the office.
The importance of extending the Office of the Ombudsman to include other areas of public life, in particular education, was discussed by Senator O'Toole. Many practitioners in the education sector would welcome an independent procedure which offers a channel to people who have genuine grievances and problems. It removes the element of rumbling about people who are actually doing a good job. When grievances are unattended they fester. It is essential that we have an independent and impartial grievance procedure in all areas of public life and in all areas of interaction between the citizen and the services of the State.
Senator Calnan said we should extend the geographic availability of the services of the Ombudsman. That suggestion can  be considered in terms of providing clinics in certain locations. We have many public buildings where public services can be delivered and where an occasional extra service could be provided.
The level of debate has been very high. Some good points have been made and I will discuss them with the Minister for Finance and my colleagues in the public service. I hope that we can continue to expand and develop the Office of the Ombudsman. The House can be assured that with Mr. Kevin Murphy as Ombudsman we will receive a service of the highest standard and integrity.
I commend the motion to the House.
Mr. Manning Mr. Manning
Mr. Manning: I thank the Minister for  her reply. Lest there be any misunderstanding of our opposition to this motion, it will be clear from my contribution that the integrity of Mr. Kevin Murphy is beyond reproach as far as this side of the House is concerned. I listened with interest to the arguments for the Ombudsman being appointed from the public service and I was persuaded by some of them. However, my party's fundamental objection — the question of consultation — was not addressed by the Minister or the Minister of State in their excellent statements. We are opposing the motion because of the Government's failure to consult with other parties.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 32; Níl, 15.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Magner and Mullooly; Níl, Senators Cosgrave and Howard.
Question declared carried.
Sitting suspended at 4.55 p.m. and resumed at 6 p.m.
Seanad Éireann 140 Appointment of Ombudsman: Motion.