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Civil Service

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 2 November 2021

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Questions (276, 278)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

276. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if his attention or that of his predecessors was drawn to any conflict of interests and or perceived conflicts of interest within the shareholding and financial advisory division of his Department in the past ten years to date in the context of section 14 of the code of conduct for civil servants; and if he will outline the steps taken by them in order to comply with the code of conduct. [52817/21]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

278. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the procedure that he followed in respect of his officials and or that of their spouse’s shareholdings in a company (details supplied) in the context of his stake in a bank and its acquisition of the company to ensure it did not give rise to the perception that there was a conflict of interest in the transaction. [52819/21]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 and 278 together.

The Deputy will be aware of the requirements of standards and behaviour across the Civil Service in relation to the matters raised in her questions. I can confirm for the Deputy that comprehensive processes have been implemented in my own Department to promulgate these standards and behaviour which include:

All staff of the Department have signed up to the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour (the Code), a process overseen by the HR Unit as part of induction in the Department. In line with section 15 of this Code, all staff who occupy positions which are "designated positions" for purposes of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 (the Ethics Acts) have certain additional statutory obligations in relation to disclosure of interests. In the Department, “designated positions” are HEO/AO and above.

The Guidelines on Compliance with the Provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 for Public Servants provide details on obligations for staff under the Ethics Act. Under the Ethics Act Requirements, there are two key obligations which apply to all staff:

(a) annual statements of interests, (which refer to potential conflicts of interests and are required to be completed and furnished by 31 January of the following year);

This process is overseen by the Department’s Compliance Officer. There is a declaration on the annual statement of interest form stating that the signing officer is aware of the obligation to disclose a material interest in an official function, which is b) below.

(b) statements of a ‘material interest’ (which can arise at any time and refer to an actual conflict of interest).

Any declaration of material interest is to the Secretary General for consideration, where applicable.

The Department issues a mid-year reminder to all staff with regard to their obligations.

In relation to your specific question in relation to Section 14 of the Code, all staff of each grade adhere to declaring conflicts of interest as per the Code, but those of grades HEO/AO have that further obligation at a) and b) in line with the ethics act.

Finally, with reference to your question on a spouse’s shareholding in a company, civil servants’ considerations to family members are covered in the Code and I would draw your attention to Section 14.2 in particular in this regard.

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