County Management (Amendment) Bill, 1972: Second Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 22 November 1972

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 263 No. 12

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Debate resumed on the following amendment:

To delete all words after “That” and substitute:

Dáil Éireann declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the grounds that the appointments of rate collector should be made a function of the Local Appointments Commission under the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act, 1926 instead of making it merely an executive function under the County Managements Acts.

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  When I reported progress before Question Time, if you could call it progress, I was saying that I was rather amused at the case Deputy Coogan made for the appointment of rate collectors. Down through the years in County Galway Deputy Coogan and his friends consistently opposed the appointment of rate collectors. At each meeting at which a rate collector was appointed they created big headlines about the system of appointment in County Galway. Apparently Deputy Coogan is now prepared to accept appointment by the Civil Service Appointments Commission rather than by the council.

[2312] A few weeks ago, when the Minister announced that he was changing the system of appointing rate collectors, I said at a meeting of Galway County Council that I had great reservations because I thought the Local Appointments Commission would be making the appointment. I was worried about that because I felt——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  That they might be impartial.

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  ——that the Local Appointments Commission would not have sufficient knowledge of the county in which the vacancy arose and that the man appointed by them might not be acceptable——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  To Fianna Fáil.

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  ——to the people in the county where the vacancy arose. The Fine Gael Party have made a great deal of play about this Bill. I am surprised that they are wasting so much of the life of the House in discussing it, because the vast majority of people agree with the proposal put forward by the Minister. I certainly agree with it.

It has emerged from this debate that Fine Gael are very opposed to the Bill. Fine Gael control the majority of county councils and therefore they will lose most by it. They have accused us of various things in County Galway over a number of years but anywhere a vacancy arose if there was a Fine Gael majority they appointed their own man even though they accused us of appointing Fianna Fáil supporters.

There was nothing wrong with the system of appointment. During my term as a county councillor in Galway we appointed many rate collectors, all good honest men who have done a good job and are still doing a good job. I should like to refute in the strongest possible manner the allegations made last night by Deputy Donnellan and by Deputy Coogan today. They accused those men of certain malpractices particularly in regard to the preparation of the register at election time. Deputy Donnellan accused the rate collectors of deliberately deleting names of Fine Gael supporters [2313] from the register. I am quite certain this is not true. If Deputy Donnellan had any proof of it he should have substantiated his charge.

I know for a fact that certain names have been left off the register through no fault of the rate collectors. They were left off for various reasons. It could be the fault of the printers, or the county council clerk, or anybody else, but it definitely was not the fault of the rate collectors. If names were left off the register they were the names of Fianna Fáil supporters as well as the names of Fine Gael supporters. There is no foundation for Deputy Donnellan's allegation or Deputy Coogan's allegation.

You do not have to be a mathematician to collect rates. You must have commonsense and a certain approach to the people. You must be aware of their problems and you must know when to collect the money. In the rural areas people have not always got money readily available. The rate collectors are familiar with their areas and they often oblige people by calling to them when they have the money available. I see nothing wrong with the system as it operated. I agree that the system proposed by the Minister will eliminate many of the doubts in people's minds but it is unfair for speakers opposite to accuse the rate collectors of malpractices. That should be refuted.

Mr. Tully: Information on James Tully  Zoom on James Tully  This Bill which was introduced by the Minister for whatever reason he did introduce it—and I hope it was for the best possible reason—relieves members of local authorities of a responsibility which most of us did not want. It was a bit of a nuisance, when a rate collector was being appointed, to have people, often many of them from the same party, feeling that they should receive support.

Deputy Hussey went a little bit further than he might have gone. There is nothing wrong with people who are elected as Fianna Fáil, or Fine Gael, or Labour supporters giving support to a member of their party if he is suitable for the job. My experience has been that it did not matter who was appointed as a rate [2314] collector in any county. With very few exceptions they did their jobs very well. There are places about which it has been said, and perhaps rightly so, that this is an expensive way of collecting the rates and the suggestion has been made that the office system which has been adopted by some counties, particularly County Kerry, might be a better system. Perhaps we will see the day when all county councils will adopt a system like that.

Some rate collectors appointed in my own county received support from Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and sometimes there was a very close vote. On other occasions we voted on what appeared to be party lines. I do not make any apology to anybody for that because in every case we felt that the people we were voting for could do a very good job. In our county they carried out their trust very well.

Deputy Desmond spoke in the House yesterday evening and I have with me a transcript of the statement he made. Apparently the accoustics are not very good in the House because what was said here did not appear to reach the Press Gallery. I have not got a copy of the papers with me but I understand that the Press reports him as having said that he knew of people being paid to support a particular candidate and that it happened even in his own party. If that statement was reported as having been said, it is not what the Official Reporter reported as having been said and I think it is only fair to Deputy Desmond, who is well fitted to look after himself but who, having spoken already in this debate, will not get an opportunity to speak again, that I should delay the House for a very short time in quoting, with your permission, Sir, what Deputy Desmond exactly said in regard to this. He said:

In rural areas, too, many of these appointments are above board but we would be utterly hypocritical here if we were not to admit that on occasion in county council areas there has been rank corruption, bribery and party political pressures in so far as these appointments are concerned. Let us be honest about this: no political party in Dáil [2315] Éireann whether in government or in opposition can claim any exemption from those charges. I have seen it happen in my party. I have known allegations of corruption, of bribery, of the passing of money and of people being favoured specially even in my own party.

“I have seen it happen in my party”—this is the attempt at corruption. There is a big difference between an allegation and a statement that money in fact was passed. Deputy Desmond has authorised me to say that he did not accuse anybody specifically of receiving money, but that the talk went around that this was done. Those of us in public life are aware that time and again allegations have been made which have never been substantiated because nobody has been challenged to substantiate them and they are very often from people who are not supporting the successful candidate who know of somebody who knows of somebody who was alleged to have been bribed to vote for a particular candidate. It is only fair that this point should be made clear because I do not know, nor does Deputy Desmond or any member of our party, of anybody being bribed for a vote in support of a particular candidate for a rate collector's job.

Whether or not the appointments should be made by the county manager or a committee set up by the county manager, or by the Local Appointments Commission is another issue on which I take issue with Deputy Hussey. If the county manager has the job, there is the danger that pressure will again be put on county councillors to try to persuade the county manager to give the position to a particular individual, and if we are going to do the job at all, it might be much better if we passed it directly to the Local Appointments Commission and let them do it. I know a number of minor posts which are filled by committees Appointed by county managers and again in every case the people selected do their job well and they are not usually appointed on a political basis at all. We are completely divorcing the county council from the appointment of rate collectors—and they are no minor [2316] posts but jobs for which people are paid more than Members of this House are at present paid—but when such a job becomes vacant there will be a tendency to try to get certain councillors to persuade county managers to favour one side or the other. County managers will be able to make up their own minds as to who should be appointed on the committee but again there is a danger that the county manager may select committees which could have certain political connotations and for that reason the Local Appointments Commission might possibly be the best way. It will divorce completely the local authority representatives from the appointments and since it is the only type of appointment, nearly the only real authority left in the possession of the local authority members, I believe the Minister at least in that regard is doing a good job in taking it out of their hands so that no longer will people be making the wild statements made even in the course of this debate about the appointment of rate collectors.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  This has been a revealing debate. Whether what it has revealed is to the credit of politicians generally and of Fianna Fáil in particular is another question. It has not just been from the Opposition benches that the malpractices of the present system have been indicted. We have heard from the benches up here—I do not know whether to describe them as opposition but we have heard indeed from the dissident Fianna Fáil members, Deputies Foley and Brennan, something from the inside about the system and we have heard from Deputy Burke, I understand, a defence of the present system. It is clear that the present system has serious defects. How serious they are depends on how one regards jobbery—political jobbery, I mean—and I will come back to that in a moment.

I want to consider the context within which the discussion is taking place. The issue before us in a way, is why did Fianna Fáil become the apostles of jobbery and the main protagonists of it? Why, historically, did this happen? It is worth dwelling on this for a moment, in a sense to be [2317] fair to that party because this should be seen in historical context. There was jobbery in Ireland before Fianna Fáil was invented, or Fine Gael or Labour. It was a 19th century practice under which when governments changed in Britain, Irish people were encouraged to attach themselves to British political parties which had no relevance to the Irish scene with a view to securing promotion. This was true of the legal profession but was not confined to that profession. By such an attachment, one could ensure that when the government changed, one had a good chance of a job.

That practice existed. It has been perpetuated in Northern Ireland, the only difference being that since the establishment of Northern Ireland the change-over between Conservative and Liberal has ceased to operate, so that we have had one-party jobbery for 50 years. This has now been effectively abolished, though not completely. There are still defects and legitimate complaints with the system but, nonetheless, in Northern Ireland a lot has been done to get rid of this system. If it has not been completely cleared up overnight, it is because its roots lie very deep and it will be some time before some of the remaining abuses can be rooted out. In this part of the country, our first Government went to considerable trouble over a whole range of public appointments to try to eliminate these practices and so the Civil Service Commission and the Local Appointments Commission were established, but their activities, their responsibilities, their terms of reference did not extend to all jobs. Certain jobs, unfortunately, as we can now see, were omitted from their terms of reference and then there was the problem that during the early days of the State—I do not wish to rehearse anything controversial; I am making no judgement on the two sides involved—there was a civil war and the Government in power found themselves in the position of being opposed in arms for reasons the people concerned found proper.

That Government found themselves in the position of defending themselves against armed attack and finding within their ranks, among the servants [2318] of the Government, people who not only disagreed with them politically, which was entirely legitimate for a public servant, but who in some instances were working actively against them. I seem to recall as a child hearing a story which always attracted my fancy of one public servant who was believed by the Cabinet of the day to be betraying secrets of the Government to the Republican movement in An Phoblacht, or passing on this in formation. The story I heard, which may be apocryphal, but it is a nice story, is that the members of the Government concocted an imaginary file with all the proper markings on it—“Bring forward” and “Put away”— as if it had gone to various people and it contained imaginary correspondence with the British Government in which it was suggested that the British Government was pressing for the introduction of the Union Jack in the corner of the Tricolour. No such thing had happened.

The file, having been carefully concocted in a manner which would persuade an ordinary civil servant that it had gone the rounds, that many had seen it, was passed to a particular civil servant, and to him only, by the member of the Government, and it appeared in An Phoblacht the following week. The civil servant concerned lost his job. The story may not be true but it is a nice story which suggests a degree of ingenuity and imagination on the part of the Government which we do not see in governments today. The point I am making is that the Government in the circumstances found it necessary to dispose of some of their employees in circumstances which naturally caused hardship. After nine years a change of government came about —democratically because the first Government sought to secure a democratic change-over of power to ensure the establishment of parliamentary democracy in Ireland.

The new Government coming in found themselves in the position that many of those who had been their supporters, had been, for reasons that were good and necessary at the time from the point of view of the Government then in power, deprived of [2319] positions in the public services. Understandably and taking the long view of the situation, the new government sought, quite properly, to re-establish this balance within certain limits by reintroducing, for a period of time, some of their supporters back to the public service, normal conditions having been restored. From the point of view of history, avoiding the partisanship of the time, that was an understandable decision but what was unfortunate about it was, that having undertaken this exercise which might be regarded, not in the strictest sense, as correct, but as a reasonable adjustment to try to re-establish a balance of position after the unfortunate civil war, the Government in question having undertaken this exercise in the early 1930's, got into the habit of doing this and continued the habit long after the necessary readjustment had been made. Therefore, my personal theory is that in that way the Fianna Fáil custom of jobbery was established.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): The Deputy is being charitable.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I try to be fair in the House and to give both sides of a story. I do not think that basically there is more natural viciousness in Fianna Fáil people than in others but there must be some reason why Fianna Fáil have been so intimately associated with jobbery throughout the history of this State. The problem has been that once the practice started it became a habit. It has corrupted Irish society. I do not accept the term used by Deputy Tully and others, some, perhaps, from these benches and some from the other benches, which suggests that there is nothing to apologise for, that there is nothing wrong with supporting one of one's own and that to vote for those whom one considers could do a very good job is all right and that the fact that they are supporters of one's own party should not preclude one from voting for them, that in fact, one should favour them so long as one is convinced they can do a good job.

This seems to me to involve a concept [2320] of distributive justice which does not accord with what I have always understood to be basic Christian principles. If in public appointments there are a number of candidates and if one candidate is better than the others although many may be qualified, failure to appoint that best candidate seems to me to involve an offence against justice. If he is the person best qualified, he is entitled to the job and for one to deprive him of that post would seem to me to be exactly the same in character as taking from him the sum of money that would accrue from the post. If somebody contrives by using his influence with a political party to have himself appointed to a post for which he is not the best qualified candidate, he is depriving somebody else of the remuneration involved for that year and for each year thereafter in which he remains in the post and he will have the same duty in terms of restitution as has anybody who steals money.

I know that that rather harsh Jansenistic view of the practice is not accepted universally but it is one that I have held always. It is one in respect of which I entered politics with a view to pursuing to the point of implementation, recognising, of course, the imperfections of human nature and that it would be impossible to safeguard always against abuses of some kind and recognising that there are some posts in respect of which it would be very difficult to provide adequate safeguards. It is all right in respect of rate collectorships, posts that arise rather rarely, to lay down methods of appointment which involve clearcut practices and procedures that should preclude any question of jobbery but, of course, at other levels, for instance, on the question of appointing a person to do a couple of weeks work on the roads, no similar system of appointment would be workable.

There may be problems also regarding the appointment of directors of State companies. It is difficult to see how these appointments can be made by anyone other than the Government. It is difficult to see what safeguards one can implement in this respect except to establish a convention [2321] that would be difficult for future governments not to follow, one that would ensure that such appointments are made on the basis of merit and are not rewards for services rendered to a party as a significant minority of such appointments are today. I do not suggest all because the majority of directors of State companies are appointed as people best suited to the jobs concerned but others are given these jobs as rewards for services to the party. There are several State bodies which, in the not too distant past, at any rate, have been provided predominantly with directors on this basis. The quality of the boards concerned has been suspect. Work has suffered and there have been cases where the Government have had to get rid of boards because of their incompetence which arose from the method of appointment. However, it is difficult to see how one can use safeguards in these cases, but in other cases one can see methods of doing so.

For instance, there is no reason why the appointment of judges should not be based on consultation of some kind with the Bar and the Incorporated Law Society whereby a panel of names would be brought forward. There could be some such system in which the Government would have a choice but where the choice would be between people who, in the opinion of their peers, were qualified eminently. I am not insisting on that system but I am suggesting merely that it is possible to arrive at a system for the appointment of judges which would eliminate political influence and which would go beyond the pure convention that operates in Britain to eliminate political appointments.

In respect of the appointments we are discussing here the job is one that arises rarely, which is at a reasonably high level and which, therefore, is eminently suited for an appropriate procedure of appointment, a procedure designed to rule out the possibility of political favouritism. I have listened to some of the arguments in favour of the procedure outlined in the Bill. I do not see the merit of these arguments but, perhaps, this is due to a certain inability on my part to listen sufficiently receptively to the [2322] views from the other side of the House but I do not see what is the merit of giving this responsibility to county managers. The arguments put forward against the appointments being made by the Local Appointments Commission seem to me to be perverse. This Commission was established for the very purpose of making local appointments. It is not as if there were no Local Appointments Commission and that it was being proposed from this side of the House that some remote body, such as the Civil Service Commission, should have this duty. The first Government here established the Local Appointments Commission. They did so precisely to enable these kind of local appointments to be made in a manner that would take account of local needs and at the same time which would ensure that these appointments were made on a basis that would preclude political jobbery or any other form of corruption and to ensure that the best appointment was made. Therefore, to suggest that a system established for this purpose, used for the vast majority of local authority jobs by this very Government, never attacked or criticised by this Government, and rightly so, because it is an excellent system, should suddenly become unsuited to the appointment of a particular local official, in this case, a rate collector is to suggest something which is untenable.

I have never heard anybody suggest that the Civil Service Commission should not appoint staff to the Revenue Commissioners, that they should be chosen as people who are known to get on well with taxpayers and who would know, as Deputy Hussey suggested, that there was money in a house at any particular time. I should like to think that when the Revenue Commissioners seek tax from me they would have regard to my immediate family situation, that they would have personal knowledge and consideration in respect of my position but they do not and nobody here has ever suggested that they should. I do not see why other forms of tax collection should have to partake of this special characteristic either. Rate collectors should be appointed [2323] by the Local Appointments Commission in the same way as other appointments are made. No case has been made for their appointment by county managers and a case has been made against the county manager system. That is a system which already gives excessive authority to one person. We must reconsider our present position and realise that the diminution of the role of local elected representatives which, no doubt, was designed for very good reasons was, nevertheless, a retrograde step. Perhaps we are more mature now than we were 40 years ago and that whatever reasons there may have been then for taking so much power away from them should be reconsidered. Modern methods of control over expenditure should make it possible to introduce new budgetary methods and to establish standards of performance and behaviour which could be controlled by spot checks that would enable the democratic system to operate properly.

This is not the moment to give further powers to county managers. Of course, county managers are involved locally and are subject to local pressures. Their own appointments may have been influenced by political considerations. I do not know whether that can be the case but it has been alleged by people on this side of the House that many of them have a Fianna Fáil complexion. Perhaps that is simply a paranoia of Opposition. The appointment of rate collectors should not be a matter for one person. We have an established procedure for such appointments that has stood the test of time and despite criticism in this House it is a procedure which, by and large, seemed fair. Whatever individual criticisms there may have been the commission never came under attack here on a general scale as being in any way lacking in impartiality.

In those circumstances it is clear that appointments should be left to the Local Appointments Commission. It is not surprising that the Minister's reluctance to adopt this obvious procedure has met with scepticism from [2324] this side of the House. When one hears Deputies who appear to be defending the present system and who regard it as having worked well telling the House, as we have heard from Deputy Hussey, that their initial opposition dissolved once they heard the work would not be done by the Local Appointments Commission and that it would be done by a county manager, then one wonders why the Minister has proposed this particular course of action which, in fact, commends itself to those who like the present corrupt system and which is opposed by those who are seeking to improve that system. That is a method at which one should look twice and the Minister cannot expect to emerge from this debate without some mistrust of his motives and without some criticisms of his attitude if he persists in proposing a method of appointment which is so suspect and so far removed from the method which commends itself to those who are seeking to clean up the system and to ensure that distributive justice applies in this area.

I should like to say, finally, that we are tackling here only the tip of, I will not call it an iceberg, but a large block of ice, because the iceberg was dissolved in the twenties largely by the creation of the Civil Service Commission and the Local Appointments Commission by the first Government. But when that dissolution took place the iceberg unfortunately did not totally melt. A few ice floes broke away and one of these is now coming under the heat of criticism in this House today. But there are others and although, as I have said, there are certain areas in which there may be practical problems about eliminating political jobbery, it should be the first requirement of this House to get rid of this cancer, because it is a cancer. The fact is our people are corrupted by it.

Throughout the country there is a belief that no one can get a job without political influence. We know in this House that this is not true. Most jobs are awarded on an impartial basis and the political jobbery has been, [2325] by the action of the first Government, confined to specific and limited areas —sub-postmasters, rate collectors, judges, guides at the Rock of Cashel, et cetera. There are a few of these particular categories and these are unfortunately sufficiently obstrusive in the public mind and in each locality people are sufficiently aware of the cases where flagrant jobbery has taken place, where people involved in politics have secured the appointments not merely of their friends but, disgracefully, of their relatives.

There is enough of that going around to convince many that the whole system is corrupt and that jobbery is prevalent throughout the whole system. The fact that it is not true is not, unfortunately, fully realised and there are enough politicians going around pretending that, in fact, they can influence jobs that they cannot influence to add to this false impression. This has corrupted the body politic of this country and has created a situation in which politicians are fawned upon, on the one hand, by those who want favours from them and, on the other hand, are the subject of mistrust and cynicism of the kind that can only corrode democracy.

It is the duty of this House, starting here, and doing a more thorough job than the Minister proposes and extending its work to other areas, to put an end to that and, on this side of the House, that is our determination and that is what we have put in our party policy and that is what we will do if we get into power. No doubt, in this, as in other parties, there will be people who will regret the fact that we are determined to clean up the system. There will be individuals who will see that they might benefit from the present system continuing. No party is perfect. No party consists entirely of angels and there are bound to be people with some element of self-interest and, in fact, the unfortunate thing is that the persistent practice of jobbery by Fianna Fáil over the last 40 years has in some degree besmirched and, to some minor degree, corrupted the other parties as well, so that within them people are to be found—not [2326] many, because for those who want jobs it is easier to get them from Fianna Fáil—who think in these terms. In our party they are a minority, a small enough minority for us to ignore them and, in government, to set them to one side and to eliminate jobbery wherever it exists and to create in this country a public administration in which when parents have a child going forward for a job they will know he will get the job if he merits it and not if he does not and, no matter who they talk to, if he is not the best person for the job, he will not get it. We want a public administration in which the people will have both trust and confidence. We have not got that now because of what has happened to the perpetuation of jobbery by the party in power in the past 40 years.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  I welcome this Bill and I commend the Minister for bringing in this very timely change. Those who criticise this change in the method of appointment must surely speak with their tongues in their cheeks. I listened last night to Deputy O.J. Flanagan being very critical of this proposed change and I note in today's paper that he is quoted as saying that this Bill stinks. I could not disagree more. From my short experience of local authority work I am convinced that what does stink is the present method of appointment. It is a method open to abuse and it has been abused and, although I cannot prove it, I am convinced there was a certain amount of corruption and jobbery attached to the appointment of rate collectors. If appointees were capable of doing their job that was not as a result of the method of appointment; it was in spite of the method of appointment.

We should, I suppose, take this opportunity of complimenting the rate collectors. They do a good job. They collect all the money they possibly can and they use a certain amount of commonsense and charity in dealing with certain cases and getting rates waived. There is hardship. People are not always in a position to pay up. It should be pointed out here that rate collectors are not indispensable. This has been proved in [2327] Kerry where the rates have been collected through an office for many years.

Deputy Flanagan asked the Minister last night to name the pressures brought to bear on him to change this particular method of appointing rate collectors. He referred to faceless people, people who were just mentioned as “they” by the Minister. I am not saying that I was directly responsible for this, but I think our organisation in Kildare played some small part; we asked the Minister to change the method of appointment of rate collectors and over a year ago Kildare County Council passed a resolution to the effect that rate collectors in future would be appointed by open competitive examination.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but I cannot help saying that I am sure his colleagues from Galway, Donegal and Clare did not appeal to the Minister.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  I cannot answer for those bodies. I crave the indulgence of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle to put on the record my humble experience in my own constituency. On the occasion to which I have referred we were fortunate to have a majority at the council meeting. Apparently the Opposition members, because there was no question of the appointment of a rate collector involved, were not so concerned to be present and they did not come to the meeting. We passed the resolution, but they subsequently mustered their forces when there was an appointment to be made and they brought in their majority and the Fine Gael and Labour representatives on Kildare County Council changed back again to the old method. They had a majority on that particular day when there was something to be gained. They apparently did not want to see the best man appointed. They wanted to appoint their own political lackeys as they have appointed them for an unbroken period of 30 years.

I welcome this Bill and, even if we [2328] had the local elections this year and returned a majority of Fianna Fáil councillors to Kildare County Council, as we will in the next election, I would still welcome the Bill because it is high time this change was made. Some years ago there was considerable publicity in the Sunday papers with regard to Dublin appointments and there were people who were very critical of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael on that occasion. Maybe that criticism was deserved, but the real hypocrites on that occasion were the members of the Labour Party who were most vocal in their criticisms and, remembering the political jobbery and broken promises in the last few appointments in Kildare, when rate collectors were being appointed, the Labour Party representatives are the very last people who should throw up their hands in horror at anything like this. There are two vacancies to be filled in Kildare now. I believe it is planned to have them filled by next Monday. If the platitudes, statements and policy expressed by Deputy FitzGerald a month ago could percolate down to the representatives in Kildare, maybe they can prove to us that they are sincere in wanting to bring about this wonderful position where the very best person will get the very best job. I hope that will be done. I personally will give them an opportunity of doing that.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The Deputy is welcome to quote my speech if it is any help to him.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  I mentioned a moment ago that I would do it, if my party had a majority on the Kildare County Council.

Mr. T.J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan): That is the hypocrisy of this speech.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  On every occasion they grabbed the jobs.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Denis Francis Jones  Zoom on Denis Francis Jones  Interruptions are disorderly. Deputy Power.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  There are further vacancies in Kildare and the electorate there will get an opportunity of seeing [2329] who wants the best man appointed, who wants honesty in politics. When the Minister indicated his intention to bring in the Bill there was an unholy rush to get the last few lads in if at all possible. The horse trading is completed. They now want to do another deal. If they want the best man, we will facilitate them but I am afraid that will not be the case.

This Bill is to be welcomed because it removes a source of embarrassment to all county councillors. We are very critical sometimes of young people not taking part in politics and we wonder at their cynicism. Political appointments can be one source of their cynicism. Recently some well qualified young people called on me to ask how the position of rate collector would be filled. One question they put was to what extent knowledge of Irish would be required. They were surprised when I explained how the appointment would be made. We will have done a good day's work if we change the system.

Deputy Flanagan said last night that all county managers were not angels and all members of the Local Appointments Commission were not angels. Had he been here a minute ago blessed Oliver would have been very pleased at archangel Garret's recommendations.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I am not sure about that.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  The county managers are good sound men. They are appointed by the Local Appointments Commission. Apparently Fine Gael have no faith in the county managers, or not sufficient faith in them to recommend that they should appoint rate collectors but they have faith in the Local Appointments Commission who appoint the county managers. There is something lacking in logic in that.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  A number of persons are better than one.

Mr. Power: Information on Patrick Power  Zoom on Patrick Power  The proposed method is very desirable and is welcomed by [2330] me and my colleagues in Kildare County Council.

Debate adjourned.


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