Name and shame civil servants who make bad decisions, TD says

John McGuinness says the lack of accountability 'can't be allowed to go on'
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.52 31 Jan 2022

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Name and shame civil servants...

Name and shame civil servants who make bad decisions, TD says

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.52 31 Jan 2022

Share this article

A Fianna Fáil TD says senior civil servants should be named and shamed for bad decisions, instead of Ministers taking all the blame.

John McGuinness, who is also chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, says there is a lack of accountability and transparency at the moment.

He told The Pat Kenny Show the civil service and Ministers should be keeping each other in-check.


"We have to acknowledge that the tension, healthy tension, between politicians and civil servants doesn't exist as it should anymore.

"That tension would keep both sides in-check, in terms of ensuring best practice for the management of the country, of the money that's spent and so on.

"So we need to firstly call out what is actually happening, and where the wrongs and rights are, and then reform the civil service to the extent that we again have that tension - and that we achieve value for money, transparency and accountability".

He believes an example where such tensions would be favourable is the new National Children's Hospital.

"First of all you have the procurement system within that particular example, and that obviously has not worked.

"The reporting on it has not worked, and therefore - from a commercial perspective - the State was put at-risk in terms of over-spend or over-cost, or the efficiency of delivering it.

"The Minister will get the blame and the flack for all of that.

"And it is my view that, in a modern civil service, we should be able to name those people that are running the departments, we should be able to determine where the scheme went wrong, and who was responsible.

"Someone has to take the responsibility at the end of the day - and without that particular sanction in place, then you don't have the method of sanctioning people and having that threat over them to keep their jobs.

"That happens in normal HR".

'We don't know where the fall down happened'

He says the current state of mental health services is another example.

"At the moment we're looking at the mental health situation throughout the country and the gap in the services.

"We have people that have failed our system, and yet we don't know where the fall down happened.

"We don't know what manager or what section of the HSE was responsible for the service that failed the individuals concerned.

"The same can be said of the 'Grace' case - and I note over the weekend, that there will be no prosecutions in that case.

"These things can't be allowed to go on - we have to change the way we do business."

He believes a lack of transparency makes people uncomfortable.

"If you look at the vast amounts of money being spent through local government or through health, none of that is accounted for in a way that gives the public the comfort of knowing that there is a watchdog in place to do all of this."

And he adds that this is about more than simply policy.

"It is about the management of the country, it's about the management of the finances within the country.

"We could get far more bang for our buck if we had a civil service that was efficient, on top of its game and in the end transparent and accountable.

"And you will only get that when you have this tension restored, and when you have accountability for those that hold the key positions that I'm talking about".

Main image: Fianna Fail John McGuinness arriving at Leinster House in April 2020. Picture by: Sam Boal /

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Bad Decisions Civil Servants John McGuinness National Children's Hospital Oireachtas Finance Committee The Pat Kenny Show

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