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Want to be the next Ombudsman? Search to replace Emily O'Reilly begins

With O’Reilly taking up her new role as European Ombudsman in the autumn, the government is now considering who to replace her and seeking expressions of interest.

Emily O'Reilly
Emily O'Reilly
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS confirmed that it is seeking a successor to Emily O’Reilly as Ombudsman and Information Commissioner ahead of her taking up a new role as European Ombudsman in the autumn.

O’Reilly is due to become European Ombudsman in October after she was elected by MEPs in the European Parliament last month, meaning the government has around two months to find her successor.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin said that the process of appointing O’Reilly’s successor is “under consideration” by the government but said it would be “inappropriate” to make any further comment on the matter in a recent written answer.

His Department has posted a notice seeking “expressions of interest” in the role on its website this week. The appointment would be for six years and the person may be reappointed for a second term. The chosen candidate will earn €167,300.

A suitable candidate would be expected to have “the gravitas and charisma to champion the rights of the citizen and/or groups of society in their dealings with the machinery of Government administration”.

Ombudsman’s role

O’Reilly, a former journalist, has occupied the post of Ombudsman and Information Commissioner since 2003 having been preceded by Kevin Murphy, a former civil servant and Michael Mills, also a former journalist.

The position of Ombudsman, created in 1984, is filled by the nomination of the government and is subject to approval by both the Dáil and Seanad and the signature of the President.

Likely candidates include civil servants, academics or a member of the legal profession. Given the role has gone to former journalists on two occasions, the nomination of a member of the media can also not be ruled out.

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The Office of the Ombudsman investigates complaints about the administrative actions of government departments, the Health Service Executive, local authorities and around 180 public bodies.

O’Reilly takes up her role as the European Ombudsman in October, replacing Nikiforos Diamandouros. She will be responsible for investigating complaints about maladministration in the EU’s institutions and bodies except for the European Court of Justice.

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Hugh O'Connell

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