PAC Chair Darren Millar AM with Huw Vaughan Thomas, Auditor General for Wales, and Committee Members Alun Ffred Jones AM, Julie Morgan AM and Aled Roberts AM outside Leinster House
On Wednesday 19 November 2014, four Members of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee flew to Dublin to meet their counterparts in the Dáil Éireann – part of the Committee’s on-going work to improve its ways of working. They were accompanied by the Auditor General for Wales, who regularly meets his Irish counterpart, the Comptroller and Auditor General.
The Dáil and Seanad Éireann are the two Houses of the Oireachtas, which meet in Leinster House. Upon arrival in Dublin, Assembly Members joined their counterparts at Leinster House for a working dinner to share experiences and priorities with the Teachtaí Dála, or TDs, who sat on the Public Accounts Committee.
On Thursday 20 December, the Members returned to Leinster House to hold a private meeting with the Committee, followed by observing the Committee meeting in public session. They also were shown around Leinster House, and given an introduction to the workings of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The discussions between the Committees brought out the common themes in their work, and the challenges they both face. The two Public Accounts Committees were similar in many ways – like the Assembly’s PAC, the Dail’s is chaired by a member of the opposition – but this is by tradition, rather than statute – as it is in Wales.
In recent years Ireland has seen a dramatic reduction in public spending, making the role of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee in ensuring value for money is being achieved all the more important, and challenging. The scale of the cuts was different, but Assembly Members and TDs all recognised the public’s ever greater expectations that taxpayer’s money be spent prudently and appropriately.
The TDs were interested that the National Assembly’s PAC had recently undertaken its own inquiries, in addition to those initiated by the Auditor General’s Value for Money studies – as an example, the PAC published a report on its inquiry on Senior Management Pay earlier in November.
The Dáil’s PAC was keen to do similar work but had been unable to do so with their existing standing orders. The National Assembly’s PAC will be providing further information on this new programme of work, to help assist their colleagues broaden their work.
Meeting John McGuinness TD, Chair of the Dáil’s PAC