A few weeks ago, prompted by this article in the Irish Times on the announcement of the final 5 candidates for the €200,000 Your Country, Your Call cash bonanza, I emailed the Press Office the following question;
Thank you for the confirmation that there has been no change in the situation regarding the payment of monies since the press reports of last week.
However, my query was not whether monies had been paid, but rather under what statutory provision such a payment would be made.
It is, in other words, the nature and legislative basis of those ‘formal arrangements’ which is my query.
I look forward to your response.
Today, after I rang the Press Office up to see if there was any update in advance of going on the radio tomorrow to discuss the competition (Newstalk, 8.45am, thank you for asking), I received the following reply;
We have no response to make at this time.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a little odd. Either the Department doesn’t know how it intends to give money to An Smaoineamh Mór Ltd, two days before the Your Country Your Call winner is to be announced, or it knows what it is going to do but doesn’t want to admit it. Neither option is particularly comfortable to consider.
Also, just in case they weren’t aware of it, I sent the Standards in Public Office Commission notice that An Smaoineamh Mor Ltd had announced their intention to commence disbursing their monies from this coming Friday 17th September. Also, given the large amount of monies involved and the potential impact of the holiday period, I asked for confirmation that all the Commissioners had been appraised of the matter.
UPDATE: The official in the Office of the Standards in Public Office Commission replied to my query above by telephone yesterday. Amongst other matters, she said that the Commissioners had been ‘briefed’ on this matter at their meeting on Monday. That’s Monday, 13th September 2010.
When I asked about the form of written record the Commission used to record its decisions on official matters, I was told that their legislation didn’t require them to keep a written register.
The Standards in Public Office Commission are still awaiting clarification from An Smaoineamh Mor Limited of their status as a Third Party under the Electoral Acts.