Committee on Finance. - City and County Management (Amendment) Bill, 1954—Committee Stage (Resumed).
Thursday, 21 April 1955
Dáil Éireann Debate
“In sub-section (4), to delete ‘(whether permanently or temporarily)’ in lines 40 and 41 and substitute ‘permanently’ and to delete ‘(permanently or temporarily, as may be appropriate)’ in line 43 and substitute permanently’.”
This is merely a drafting section to clarify the meaning of sub-section (4) of the section. An Order cannot be made unless the office of manager in one of the counties is vacant. Sub-section (4) provides that if there is a permanent county manager in the other county he will automatically be appointed as manager for the second grouped county as well, on the commencement of an Order under section 12. If, on the commencement date, there is a temporary manager in each of the two counties it will fall to the Minister to terminate the appointment of one of them and to appoint the other as temporary manager for the two grouped counties under the provisions of Section 5 (10) of this Bill. As I said at the outset, this is merely a drafting point and I would ask the House to accept it.
Mr. Briscoe: The amendment does not quite meet the point raised on the Second Stage. For instance, the county borough manager and the borough of Dún Laoghaire manager happen to be the same person. If he retires under the recent Local Government Bill then you have two vacancies caused by the retirement of the same man at the same time. What does the Minister do there? When the Local Government Bill, which is now with the Seanad, becomes law, the manager will have reached the retiring age and if he wishes to retire or if he has to retire you have two vacancies.
Mr. Briscoe: Is not this the section we discussed in the Second Reading, where if one wants to associate itself on a particular thing with the other and they both make the request, the Minister may grant it—it is not mandatory on him to do so and he need only do so if he chooses to meet the request?
This amendment seeks to amend Section 7 of the County Management Act, 1940, which provides that the county manager shall by virtue of his office be the manager of every elected body within such county. The intention of the amendment is to permit the appointment of a whole-time manager for Dún Laoghaire.
For many years past Dún Laoghaire has sought county borough status, an increase in area and a whole-time manager. This Bill permits Dublin City and county to degroup. It also gives them separate managers and I see no reason why it should not give Dún Laoghaire a whole-time manager. Dún Laoghaire, on the basis of area, population and poor law valuation, exceeds all other county boroughs except Dublin in some respects and some of them in all respects. As regards poor law valuation, Dún Laoghaire is second with £270,000 in the current year, being exceeded only by Cork City with £276,000. In population it is third on the 1951 figures and in area it is first with 4,179 acres.
Mr. O'Donnell: I have a considerable amount of sympathy with Dún Laoghaire and to show my sympathy I am prepared to appoint a separate assistant county manager for the borough. As legislation stands at the moment, separate managers may only be appointed for county boroughs. I am prepared to give them an assistant for themselves. If and when Dún Laoghaire Corporation make application for the extension of its boundary and for county borough status, I will be prepared—in conjunction with my colleagues, particularly the Minister for Health and the Minister for Social Welfare—to consider favourably such a proposal. Of course, such ad hoc legislation would provide for a separate manager for Dún Laoghaire. I think that should satisfy the Deputy and the House.
Mr. Briscoe: I rise to support Deputy Dockrell's amendment, but not for the reasons given by him. I support it for the reason—which has been fortified by what the Minister said— that we in Dublin, who have the status sufficient to warrant us having a county manager of our own, want to have an end to this business where our manager is also the manager for Dún Laoghaire. If the Minister says that he is prepared to appoint an assistant manager full-time there, he is assistant to whom? Assistant, of course, to the manager in the City of Dublin.
Mr. Briscoe: If the Minister is prepared to say now that Dublin will be entitled to have its own city manager for its own exclusive use, I am quite satisfied to allow Deputy Dockrell, if he wishes, to accept the undertaking the Minister has given with regard to the future status of Dún Laoghaire. He and I agree that the present system is a bad one. You have two neighbouring authorities that sometimes have interests in conflict. Our manager is manager of three authorities, all three neighbouring and all three sometimes in direct conflict over certain matters.
Mr. O'Donnell: Once the city and county request degrouping, then the Minister, in conjunction with his colleagues, may sanction such degrouping and if they do Dún Laoghaire will have a separate assistant manager under the county.
Mrs. O'Carroll: This amendment came up sooner than we thought it would. In the absence of Deputy Desmond, I intend to move it. When I came in, Deputy Dockrell was speaking and I thought it was on our amendment at first. I would like to move it, as I was one of the signatories to the amendment.
(1) Section 7 of the Act of 1940 is hereby amended in so far as it is declared that on and after a date to be prescribed by the Minister the County Manager for the County of Dublin shall cease to be the manager for the Borough of Dun Laoghaire.
(2) Upon the passing of this Act the Minister shall in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1) of this section prescribe a date, not being sooner than three months after the passing of this Act, on which this section shall come into effect.
(3) Upon the Minister having prescribed a date in accordance with sub-section (2) of this section the corporation of Dun Laoghaire shall proceed to appoint a suitable person to be manager for the Borough of Dun Laoghaire.
I will not go over the ground covered by Deputy Dockrell and Deputy Briscoe, as the Leas-Cheann Comhairle says the amendments are the same. An important factor in this amendment is that this is the unanimous decision of the Corporation in Dun Laoghaire. They are the people who want this county borough status and their own manager. Surely if these people are elected by the ratepayers of Dun Laoghaire they are also entitled to decide in the final analysis how the money should be spent and how the services should be administered. For that reason I am prepared to challenge a division on our amendment.
Mr. O'Donnell: It is only fair to Deputy Mrs. O'Carroll that I should explain that the amendment as put down would not give Dun Laoghaire county borough status. Until such time as it gets county borough status it cannot have a separate manager. I have explained to the House and to Deputy Dockrell that I am prepared at this stage to give an assistant manager  to Dun Laoghaire. If and when the question of extending the boundary of Dun Laoghaire and declaring it a county borough comes up, when such legislation is before the House—it will, of course, be ad hoc legislation—we can also provide for the appointment of a city manager, but the amendment as framed would not give the Dun Laoghaire Corporation county borough status and, without that, we cannot give it a city manager.
Mr. O'Donnell: Far be it from me to make any such suggestion. I do not wish to make any such suggestion. What I suggested to the House is that we cannot give Dun Laoghaire a separate city manager until it becomes a county borough. I hope I have made myself clear.
Mr. O'Donnell: Even if the amendment is passed, we cannot, and even if the Deputy were permitted to amend the amendment. Unfortunately, until it becomes a county borough, it cannot be given a city manager, but I am prepared to consider favourably such ad hoc legislation when it is later introduced. I am not trying to quibble about this matter. I am with the Deputy and the movers of the amendment, but it just cannot be done under this amendment. Far be it from me to suggest that I would take advantage of technicalities in dealing with Dun Laoghaire Corporation or with the movers of the amendment.
Mr. O'Donnell: That cannot get you anywhere. Until ad hoc legislation is introduced to declare Dun Laoghaire a county borough, no matter how we amend it, we can do nothing about it,  but I am prepared to consider favourably such legislation. It is not, however, before the House.
Question proposed: “That Section 16 stand part of the Bill.”
Mr. Allen: Would the Minister explain the meaning of Section 16?
Mr. O'Donnell: Though the section looks slightly involved, it is not, in fact, involved. It is not a method whereby professional men may be sued for damages. Sub-section (2) of Section 61 of the Local Government Act, 1925, provides that whenever a proposal is made at a meeting of a local authority to do any act, matter or thing in consequence of which an illegal payment is to be made out of the funds of the local authority, or a deficiency or loss is likely to result in such funds, it shall be the duty of the responsible officer of the local authority to make objection and to state the grounds of his objection. If a decision is taken on the proposal, the names of the members present and voting for and against the decision and abstaining from voting on the decision must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
In sub-section (1) of that section, “responsible officer” is defined as meaning the secretary, clerk, resident medical superintendent or other chief executive officer of the local authority.
 The provisions of this section are being replaced in Section 16 of this Bill to bring them into line with the management system. Under the new section, whenever a proposal is made at a meeting of a local authority to do anything (a) which is a reserved function or is a matter which is covered by a resolution under the requisition section, Section 4, and (b) in consequence of which an illegal payment is to be made, or a deficiency or loss is likely to result, the manager, or, in his absence, such officer as may be designated by him, must object and state the grounds of his objection, and if a decision is taken on the proposal, the names of the members present and voting for and against the decision and abstaining from voting are recorded in the minutes.
Sub-section (3) provides that where the names of the persons voting for a decision to do any act, matter or thing are recorded in the minutes of the meetings, those persons and no other person shall be surcharged on any surcharge or charged on any charge that may subsequently be made as a result of the decision. Section 20 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1902, as amended by Section 61 of the Local Government Act, 1925, provides that:—
“At the audit of the accounts of any public body, the auditor shall charge against the member or officer of such public body the amount of any deficiency or loss incurred by his negligence or misconduct, or of any sum which ought to have been, but was not, brought into account by him and shall, in any such case, certify the amount due from him.”
The effect of sub-section (3) is to fix the responsibility on the members of the local authority, and on them alone, whenever they vote in favour of a proposal to which objection has been made under sub-section (1). It is necessary to fix responsibility on them because of the wording of Section 20 of the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1902. Otherwise, the manager who signs the advice note authorising the payment could be charged by the auditor. It is merely to fix the responsibility on those voting.
Mr. Briscoe: And to charge them?
Mr. O'Donnell: Yes.
Mr. Blaney: Provided the objection is pointed out.
Mr. O'Donnell: Yes, in fairness to everybody concerned.
Mr. Blaney: Does that objection have to be backed up by legal opinion or is it to be the opinion of a particular officer?
Mr. O'Donnell: If an officer gives the advice, he becomes responsible. That is the position. It is then a matter for clarification afterwards, as to who was right and who was wrong. It is really a question of fact and not of law.
Mr. Briscoe: On a point of order, I think there has been an oversight. There was an amendment circulated to-day which is supposed to be amendment No. 26b, to insert a new section before Section 16, in Deputy Kyne's name.
Mr. O'Donnell: Perhaps the Deputy would hear the Leas-Cheann Comhairle on that.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendment No. 26b was ruled out of order.
Mr. Briscoe: The grounds being?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That it was not relevant to the Bill, and the Deputy was informed accordingly.
Mr. Briscoe: I did not know that.
Mr. Allen: That is correct. Under the County Management Act, as I understand it, it is the manager, and the manager alone, who may be surcharged for making an illegal payment. Under the Management Act it is the manager who may be surcharged for making illegal payments. It is proposed now to make members of the local authority——
Mr. O'Donnell: Once it is pointed out to them.
Mr. Allen: No payment can be made unless the manager seeks authority to pay. Is not that so?
Mr. O'Donnell: If the Deputy would look at Section 4 of the Bill where they may requisition.
Mr. Allen: That is just a point I want to raise. There was a lot of talk about the great democratic powers it was giving back to the local authorities. We were led to believe by the Minister and by those who support him that the council in future can requisition managers to do almost anything within the law that they were empowered to do, to get a particular job done. Under Section 16, if the local council or the county council proposes to do a certain thing, the engineer, for instance, may say: “I have allocated all the money that was provided for roads this year for something else, and if the council decides to spend £500 in having this particular job done, I want to warn you that it is illegal to do that, and you will be surcharged.” This is giving greater powers to the officials than ever they had. If there is a deficiency——
Mr. O'Donnell: The Deputy does not appreciate what I am doing in the Bill.
Mr. Allen: You are giving with one hand and you are taking away with the other.
Mr. O'Donnell: The Deputy does not want to hide under the skirts of the county manager, does he?
Mr. Allen: I know about the skirts of the manager all right, but under the section you are giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
Mr. O'Donnell: I am giving them more powers, and they must accept more responsibility. That is all.
Mr. Allen: Let the Minister be quiet. Section 4 “Requisition that a particular thing be done,” says:—
“Subject to the provisions of this section, a local authority may by resolution require any particular act, matter or thing specifically mentioned in the resolution and which  the local authority or the manager can lawfully do or effect to be done or effected in performance of the executive functions of the local authority.”
It goes on to say what procedure is to be adopted. It is a very long section.
Mr. Sheldon: But “local” is the operative word.
Mr. O'Donnell: Yes.
Mr. Allen: In it, the council can order a manager to have particular works carried out, whatever they may be. Supposing the council comes along in the month of June and orders the manager to have particular works carried out, the county engineer can say: “I have allocated whatever money was provided by the council for other works,” although it is only three months after the start of the financial year and there is no other money to carry out the work that the council want done. It will make a deficiency or deficit in the fund. Therefore, the members of the council voting to have that piece of work carried out can be surcharged. It is nullifying 100 per cent. I think there is no doubt about that.
In sub-section (1) (a) of Section 16, Section 4 is specifically mentioned, and it nullifies the power given to the council. There is no doubt about that. Also, the principle in this whole thing must be wrong, because no moneys can be paid by the local authority without the authority of the manager. The council has no power under any Act to force him to make any payment which he considers illegal.
Why bring in the council members into this at all? That is what I cannot understand. There is no power vested in any council at the moment to force the manager to pay out moneys illegally. Under the 1940 Act, the manager was held responsible and could be surcharged. Now the onus is going to be put on the local authority, and they are going to be surcharged. I would like to suggest, apart from paragraph (a) of sub-section (1), the whole principle of this section is something which I am surprised the Minister  introduced here. Some of us know that an agitation has been going on by managers since the coming of the 1940 Act to have the onus removed off their shoulders, that they should not be surcharged under any circumstances. We know that. Now this is brought into a Bill which is supposed to be giving back powers, and the members of the local authority who have no responsibility, or who are not being given any responsibility in this Bill for making of payments where they will create a deficiency in the fund, will now be surcharged.
A manager, principal officer or accountant, can at any time tell the council that a payment will create a deficiency in the fund, even if the council authorises them to get a further overdraft. If they did not want to do a job that the council wanted carried out they could always plead that it would create a deficiency in the fund. Any additional work not provided for in the original estimates can be said by the manager, or by the county engineer, or some other principal officer, to create a deficiency in the fund. There is no doubt about that. Why remove responsibility from the shoulders of the managers who are responsible for all payments?
This is to nullify, and I am surprised at the Minister introducing a section to nullify something when it was hoped he was giving a little more power to the council. Why he should set out to nullify it, and put the onus on the members of a local council because an illegal payment may be made by the manager, I cannot understand. Who will make the payment?
Mr. O'Donnell: Supposing the manager is requisitioned to do it?
Mr. Allen: They cannot force the manager to make an illegal payment.
Mr. O'Donnell: Of course they can.
Mr. Allen: They cannot.
Mr. O'Donnell: All right that is the Deputy's view.
Mr. Allen: They cannot force the  manager to make an illegal payment. You point out a section in this Bill, or in the law as it stands, or in the law as it may be when this Bill becomes an Act, where a council can force a manager to make an illegal payment. They cannot. They do not sign the cheques or the pay orders. The officers are designated to make the payments. If they know it is illegal for them to make them, then it is they who should be surcharged and not the members of the local authority.
Mr. Sheldon: I can go part of the way with Deputy Allen. Though I think that the phraseology of Section 4 does prevent this illegality matter, I am not very happy about paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 16 because added to the possibility of an illegal payment is “a deficiency or loss likely to result in or to such funds”. That seems to me to be very wide. That goes very much further than the possibility of an illegal payment. I would like to hear from the Minister exactly what he envisages here. As far as I can see the question of an illegal payment is sufficiently tied up.
Mr. O'Donnell: This is the usual auditor's phraseology.
Mr. Allen: The Dáil is a law-making authority.
Mr. Sheldon: The Minister's explanation is not an explanation at all. The fact that it is the usual phraseology does not convince me of anything.
Mr. O'Donnell: I hope the Deputy understands.
Mr. Sheldon: I am looking at it here. It is quite specific. The members of a local authority may make a proposal under Section 4 of the Act and may be quite convinced of their right to do so. They may be told by a manager: “This will produce a deficiency in the funds and if you persist you may be surcharged.” That goes very much wider than an illegality. I am entirely with the Minister in trying to prevent an illegal payment. That is something which a local  authority ought not to do. The Minister for Finance, his officials and the Government frequently involve the State in expenditure which causes a deficiency in funds and they have to borrow. I cannot see why a local authority should be in danger of being surcharged because they do the same thing. It seems to me to be creating a situation where the local authority can find itself completely stultified. In view of modern views on finance in regard to creating a deficiency in funds, what is the particular crime in that to lead to a surcharge? I think the Minister will have to find some much more precise argument on it than merely saying it is the ordinary phraseology which an auditor uses.
I am not at all satisfied. I think it is going wide indeed to hold a threat over a member of a local authority that he must listen to the manager and any other officer of the council who has only to say: “That is all very well but your proposals, if followed out, will mean a deficiency in the funds and you will be surcharged.” I do not see why a council should be tied up in that way. The Minister will certainly have to produce some better explanation than he has produced to satisfy me.
Mr. Corry: I cannot see any necessity for the section at all, to be quite candid. In paragraph 1 of Section 4 the following words occur: “Which the local authority or the manager can lawfully do.” We are not empowered to move to do anything which the local authority cannot lawfully do. Paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 16 says: “In consequence of which an illegal payment is to be made out of the funds of the local authority.” How is the illegal payment to be made if the local authority cannot move to do anything that cannot be lawfully done? That is what I cannot understand.
In regard to the remainder of that paragraph, I think Deputy Sheldon hit the right nail on the head. Suppose a road is in a particularly bad condition and a council decides to expend £2,000 to put the road in order in the month of January when the funds are running out. Let us further suppose that the council unanimously agree to  put the road in order. The usual thing we do in the Cork County Council is to put the road in order.
Mr. O'Donnell: I wish you would follow their advice in regard to Youghal Bridge.
Mr. Corry: If the Minister wants to know more about Youghal Bridge we will discuss that on another amendment here in a minute.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That does not arise on this section.
Mr. Corry: I cannot help it if the Minister is disorderly. The Minister is endeavouring to drag in a red herring but I will stick to the salmon I am trying to land. The council decide that the road should be put in order at a cost of £2,000. According to this, the council cannot now move a Supplementary Estimate for that purpose. All the manager need say is that there will be a deficiency in the funds. I am objecting. I think this is a nonsensical section and that it should go out. I suggest that the Minister in his less exuberant moments would read the section himself when he will see that it should go.
Mr. O'Donnell: It is a pity the Deputy did not put down an amendment.
Mr. Corry: There was no necessity to put down an amendment.
Mr. O'Donnell: Even an amendment to delete?
Mr. Corry: There was no occasion for an amendment of that kind. The Minister clubbed a Labour man and a member of his own Party in regard to his proposals about Youghal bridge and he drove them into the Lobby yesterday when the division was carried by their two votes. He had nothing to be proud of in that.
Mr. Blaney: Could we have from the Minister his own interpretation as to why this section was really necessary? Would the Minister also clear up one thing that sticks very much in my mind? Suppose there is an objection and the manager or his appointee gets  up and says he objects on some factual grounds? Suppose that at that particular time there is no proof available of that particular objection, what is the position of the council? Must they let the motion go by the board? What is their way out if the objection was not really genuine?
Mr. O'Donnell: The members of a vocational education committee, for instance, may be surcharged. We are now giving to the local authority wider powers. Under the 1925 Act, the secretary of a county council is the only person who may sound the warning, but here we are giving wider powers to the local authority than they ever had. We are providing that someone other than the secretary may sound the warning.
Somebody asked me for an example in regard to a deficiency in the funds. One example I would like to give is where a local authority accepts, despite the warning of the appropriate official, a tender which is not the lowest tender, which may involve a deficiency in funds.
Mr. Allen: That is a lame one.
Mr. O'Donnell: It is a lawful act in many ways and it may involve a deficiency in the funds. Once the warning is sounded, is it not up to the people who refuse to accept the warning to carry the baby and become responsible?
Mr. Blaney: Would not there be still this safeguard that, despite the fact that the local authority may do such an act, an illegal act, if you like, that does not end the matter; it is not finally and conclusively finished at that stage; it must go through the manager or some of his officials to be finalised? Since it is not finalised by resolution of the council, why this stop gap at this stage?
Mr. O'Donnell: The Deputy will appreciate that Section 4 would enable the council to requisition the county manager to do this?
Mr. Blaney: Is there no overriding sub-section whereby only a lawful act——
Mr. O'Donnell: Yes, but remember, the acceptance of a tender other than the lowest tender would be a lawful act but it might involve a deficiency in funds and there is an onus thrown on the appropriate official to point that out. Despite the fact that it is quite a lawful act and despite the fact that the requisitioning section is being invoked, there is an onus then thrown on the members, if they want to do that despite the warning sounded, that they must accept more than the warning—they must accept the responsibility.
Mr. Blaney: There is another point. Is it not a fact that in the publication of an advertisement seeking tenders by a local authority the final sentence is “The lowest or any tender need not necessarily be accepted?”
Mr. O'Donnell: Yes.
Mr. Blaney: What is the purpose of such wording in future if a local authority may not, by resolution, accept any tender other than the lowest tender?
Mr. O'Donnell: I would refer the Deputy to another section—Section 15 —on the question of tenders which gives the local authority the power to make regulations governing the acceptance of tenders.
Mr. Blaney: If they make regulations under Section 15 and under the section now under discussion do not contravene the regulations so made by themselves then, even though it may result in a loss, they are covered in law. Is that the position?
Mr. O'Donnell: I am only quoting this as a lawful act which may involve a deficiency in funds.
Mr. Blaney: Are there other acts or illegal acts?
Mr. O'Donnell: A number of them.
Mr. Blaney: If there was not a great number, why not designate them?
Mr. O'Donnell: There is a number of them but remember the auditor is the judge. That has been accepted down the years.
Mr. Blaney: We must accept that the auditor will be the judge eventually but that is usually two or three years after the event takes place.
Mr. O'Donnell: We hope to speed that up by appointing auditors. We are trying to bring that up to date.
Mr. Blaney: That is only side-tracking the issue. A number of acts have been cited by certain Deputies. If certain requisitions were made for such things as repair of a certain stretch of road, surely that would not be regarded under this section as an illegal act despite the fact that it would cause a deficiency?
Mr. O'Donnell: No, it would not.
Mr. Blaney: I take it that, despite the section, any act which is a lawful act under other laws cannot become an illegal act under this section and that no loss or deficiency accruing as a result of such act can be surcharged on those performing the act. Would that really be the case?
Mr. O'Donnell: It would. The Deputy will distinguish between unlawful and illegal.
Mr. Blaney: I am trying to but it is only people like the Minister and his colleagues near to him who can distinguish these things properly. I am doing the best I can.
Mr. O'Donnell: I accept the Deputy's remarks in the spirit in which they are made.
Mr. Blaney: Assuming the section is necessary—I am not too sure that it is, even yet, but I am taking it on the basis that it is—I am trying to get it clear that such things as were cited already, such as the repair of a road which may arise possibly as an emergency, would not fall within the section and be considered an illegal act even though a loss will accrue.
Mr. O'Donnell: The Deputy may accept my word for that.
Mr. Blaney: Anything that the local authority does costs money. I do not know anything that we have done that makes money.
Mr. O'Donnell: The Deputy appreciates that where an officer comes in and warns the council against their own act which may involve a deficiency in funds, it would be very unfair that the officer of the local authority should be responsible for the surcharge.
Mr. Blaney: Surely this point will arise then—if the manager or his appointed officer must sign some document or order or pay order in order to finalise this illegal transaction that we assume could arise under the section, the obvious course would be to leave this section out and the officer concerned, knowing the position, would not sign the order or carry out and finalise the act?
Mr. O'Donnell: Then you may requisition him.
Mr. Blaney: Yes, agreed, but if he does not act?
Mr. O'Donnell: Then you may as well take Section 4 out of the Bill.
Mr. Blaney: If he does not act on that requisition because he knows it to be illegal, what can a council do to such an officer in such circumstances?
Mr. O'Donnell: Who is going to decide? I am giving the council power to requisition the officer to do a particular thing. Supposing the officer says: “I will not do it,” surely the section is futile, but if he says: “You are compelling me to do it, but I warn you against the results of your action. I warn you now. I must do it. That is the law. Section 4 gives you that power to compel me to do it. I am going to do it, but I warn you against the result of your own action,” surely it would be very unfair to suggest that the officer who has issued the warning should be responsible for the surcharge.
Mr. Blaney: He does not have to do it.
Mr. O'Donnell: I am compelling him to do it under Section 4. He must do it. If that is not the case then Section 4 is useless and, as Deputy Joe Brennan said here, the kernel of the Bill is Section 4.
Mr. Blaney: It would be without this added to it. If the officer concerned is directed or made to do a certain act and he refuses to do this act because he maintains it is illegal, surely he is entitled to stand on that refusal and still refuse to do it and, if he does stand on the refusal, no action can possibly be taken against him to remove him from office or any such thing.
Mr. O'Donnell: I am going to make him obey his employer, the local authority.
Mr. Blaney: I want to get from the Minister, if that is the case, what safeguard has the council from being told by an officer of that council that they cannot do a certain thing because it is illegal? What safeguard have we as local authorities, what answer have we to such a statement by our officer if he says: “It is illegal. If you do this you will be surcharged.”?
Mr. O'Donnell: You are taking it that the county officer or manager is a crook. You still have your legal adviser.
Mr. Blaney: Not exactly that. He may have his prejudices, as all of us have, and if he says “this cannot be done”, what is our redress?
Mr. O'Donnell: He can say: “Go to the Minister and ask the appropriate Minister.”
Mr. Blaney: If that is the case, why not allow us to perform this act and let the officer object and come to the Minister?
Mr. O'Donnell: And then who is going to take the consequences?
Mr. Blaney: Who is going to take the consequences? I move to report progress.
Mr. O'Donnell: The Deputy succeeded anyway, or rather the Opposition did, in holding it up.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 27th April, 1955.
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