I completely refute what Deputy Deasy has said. Let us examine a couple of facts. This is the committee to which the Secretary General is accountable. He should have responded to a unanimous request, issued three weeks ago, to come before the committee. We reached out and tried to facilitate a number of dates and he should have responded positively to that.
The request which came from me to the committee that he appear before this committee was accompanied by the suggestion that we invite members of the health committee to attend that session to avoid the issues of duplication and repetition. The Secretary General is accountable to this committee. The suggestion that we are not working with other committees is nonsense and the Deputy would understand that if he was aware of the full facts.
The request which came from me to the committee that he appear before this committee was accompanied by the suggestion that we invite the health committee in on that session to avoid the issues of duplication and repetition. The general secretary is, obviously, accountable to this committee. The suggestion that we are not working with other committees is nonsense and, if the Deputy was aware of the full facts, he would understand that.
Let me also make the point that the only other committee, aside from the Committee of Public Accounts, which has requested the Secretary General to appear before it is the Committee on Budgetary Oversight of which I, and a number of members of this committee, are also members. The request for the Secretary General to appear before that committee was submitted on 5 December 2018, nearly three months ago, and was nothing to do with the national children's hospital. It was to do with the desire to understand the continuous overruns in health expenditure and how the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is monitoring that and ensuring they will not be repeated again this year. The fact that the Secretary General has not accepted that request, outstanding for nearly three months, is now added to the point that there are four different committees requesting his attendance before them. The Secretary General would not be requested to appear before the Committee on Budgetary Oversight again if he had appeared before it in December or January.
That is the issue here. I have made this point in private session. The Secretary General should, without doubt, come before this committee if he is requested to do so. He should also appear before the Committee of Public Accounts and we have suggested inviting members of the health committee to our meeting as they are entitled to attend and to participate in that discussion to ensure there is no duplication.
I dispute all of the suggestion of games or anything else. This was well flagged. The Secretary General knew my position on this. He raised it with me privately where made it very clear that a committee cannot allow this position to continue that a Secretary General refuses to come before committee. We are either serious politicians on a serious committee or we are not. I regret that it has come to this, but we have been dealing with this for three weeks privately. It now comes to the point where we have Estimates, which are straightforward enough. We will have them concluded within a short period of time, but as the Secretary General is refusing to come before this committee, we have to ask ourselves why should we at this point be accommodating this work on the schedule until this issue is resolved. I believe it will be resolved. The actions we are taking today will resolve it, but it needs to resolved. We cannot allow a precedent to be set where the unanimous view of a committee would be that the Secretary General should appear before it, and for some reason a Secretary General, whoever he or she may be, believes that they have the entitlement to refuse to attend. The only other people who have refused before to come before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and the Taoiseach, are the vulture funds. We have criticised and lambasted them on the fact that they refused to come before this committee and now our own Secretary General is refusing to appear before this committee