Written Answers. - Declarations of Interest.

Noel Dempsey

Question:

86 Mr. Dempsey asked the Taoiseach if all Ministers are required to make declarations of interest when participating in Government decisions in which family members may be involved or may be beneficiaries; if so, the date on which this requirement came into force; the number of such declarations that have been made in the past 12 months in total; and the number of declarations that have been made by each individual Minister. [1669/96]

Under the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995, a Minister is required by law to make declarations of interest to the Public Offices Commission and the Taoiseach if she or he proposes to perform a function of office and has actual knowledge that she or he or a connected person, or another office holder, has a material interest. Following from this, a Minister must make such a declaration if participating in a Government decision in which his or her family member might be a beneficiary. The Ethics in Public Office Act came onto operation on 1 November 1995.

For the first time the registrable interests of Ministers will be published and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas around the end of March. In addition, annual statements relating to family interests will be provided to the Public Offices Commission which oversees the Act in respect of Ministers. Understandably, the interests of family members will not be publicly disclosed.

Respecting the privacy of third parties, who are neither elected Members nor Ministers, I do not propose to comment on disclosures relating to family interests to be made either in the context of annual statements, or disclosures made in relation to matters before Government. However, in the event of a possible contravention of the Ethics in Public Office Act, such information is fully available to the Public Offices Commission for the purposes of any investigation and appropriate reports by that body.