THE CHAIRMAN OF the Dáil’s spending watchdog has defended his decision to call for health sector bosses to quit over their handling of the HSE’s budget.
However, he has been accused of politicising the traditionally non-political role of chair of the Public Accounts Committee.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Saturday with Claire Byrne, Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness dismissed suggestions that he was attempting to ‘grab headlines’ by branding the HSE as not fit for purpose. and calling for the Director General of the HSE and Secretary General of the Department of Health to step down.
“I’m a man who likes to do my job,” he said. “The Public Accounts Committee is where the civil service meets head-on with the politicians representing the public in the context of how they spend tax payer’s money.”
Handled “very badly”
McGuinness noted the secretary general had failed to provide details as to how certain aspects of the budget are calculated, and said that tax payer’s money was handled “very very badly”, adding that he couldn’t ‘sit on his hands’ when it was being revealed.
Speaking on the same programme, Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan said he didn’t believe that the Public Accounts Committee ‘was best served by his utterance’.
“It’s the first time we’re seeing a party political badge shown by the chair of the PAC,” he claimed, adding that politicians involved should “leave their party political affiliation outside the door”.
McGuinness was criticised by members of his own committee for calling for the resignations.
Labour TD Robert Dowds, who lead questioning of the health chiefs yesterday, said that McGuinness’s comments were “over the top” and ’smacked of publicity seeking’.