The Joint Committee on Health and Children normally meets at 9.30 a.m. but, for reasons best known to the Government, it meets this morning at 11 a.m.
As the Taoiseach is aware, section 3 of the Public Service Management Act 1997 states clearly that Ministers are responsible for the performance of the functions assigned to their Departments. In the guidelines issued with the approval of the Taoiseach by his Department in 2002, Ministers were reminded of their responsibility for "ensuring that the systems are in place and operational to enable the Department to meet its goals and its objectives". This morning we are due to receive a report from Mr. Travers, commissioned by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, into "systemic maladministration" in that Department. We are informed that a senior civil servant is to be removed from his post.
The Taoiseach, as Head of Government, appointed Ministers to various Departments and assigned them political responsibility for those Departments as outlined in his own guidelines approved in December 2002. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Martin, who is not here, has had a chance to read this report. I do not know if he attended yesterday's meeting at which the Government considered the report. Will the Taoiseach tell the House whether the Minister has tendered his resignation? If he has not done so, has the Taoiseach called him in or does he intend to call him in to explain the political failures in his performance at the Department of Health and Children? If the Minister has not offered his resignation, does the Taoiseach intend to sack him?
It is clear the Minister, Deputy Martin, was well aware of the situation, as was the Taoiseach's communications unit, now costing €300,000 per year to tell Ministers what is on the front pages of the newspapers. Will the Taoiseach call in the Minister and exert his authority as Taoiseach with political responsibility by making him answer for his failure of political accountability in running his Department, which will now cost the State €2 billion? At least €500 million of this sum has been accumulated since the Minister became aware of the situation, along with two other Members in the middle Government benches, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, who sat at meetings and, like the three monkeys, saw, heard and did nothing.