DEPUTY John McGuinness, Chairman of the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC), is a force to be reckoned with in Leinster House as he pulls no punches to get to the bottom of the missing €3.6 billion.
He also featured on a programme on RTE television on monday night int the collapse of the fianna fail party and croneyism exhibited in deputy McGuinness’s eyes by former Taoiseach, Brian cowen.
Calling an emergency meeting of the PAC on Thursday, arising out of the serious accounting error confirmed by the Department of Finance, Deputy McGuinness said that people needed to know how it occurred, when it was discovered and how it was brought into the public domain.
“The impact on the country’s debt to GDP ratio, namely that it would be 2.3% lower as a result of the error being rectified, is very significant,” he said.
McGuinness immediately began an investigation with a view to establishing who was responsible for the error and should be held to account. He first called the Clerk of the Public Accounts Committee to seek a report from each party, the Department of Finance and the NTMA. He then demanded a meeting of all parties involved in the error with a view to getting immediate answers.
Describing the emergency meeting, Independent TD Shane Ross wrote in the Sunday Independent, “Somewhere in the labyrinthine channels linking the dungeons of the Department of Finance, the NTMA and the CSO, the €3.6bn mistake had surfaced. The chairman wanted instant answers from the civil service, not the usual two-week plod towards an inconclusive enquiry. John managed to deliver the top brass of the trio for questioning.”
He added: “McGuinness set the tone with a robust signal that the PAC should pull no punches. The star witness was undoubtedly Kevin Cardiff, the departing head of the Department of Finance. Kevin is hoping to retire to the less controversial pastures of the European Court of Auditors in February. McGuinness listened. Then he pounced. The Department of Finance, he retaliated, had been given 22 recommendations by the PAC. Not one had been implemented. McGuinness, a bright light from the Fianna Fail stable, had enforced accountability on pillars of rectitude.” Praise indeed from Deputy Ross.
All members of the PAC were united in McGuinness’s forceful approach to getting answers from the Department of Finance and the NTMA. Taking full advantage of the powers and responsibilities associated with being chair of what is often referred to as the Government watchdog, McGuinness is not holding back and is determined to clamp down on government waste and financial errors and in particular, waste in the public sector.