Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Powers of Ombudsman.

Thursday, 12 December 1985

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 362 No. 11

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Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  asked the Minister for the Public Service if he will consider increasing the powers of the Ombudsman for investigating complaints made against Telecom Éireann in view of the fact that it is taking six months or more to get replies from the company via the Ombudsman's office.

Mr. Boland: Information on John Boland  Zoom on John Boland  The Ombudsman is independent in the performance of his functions. I have consulted him about the adequacy of his powers under the present legislation to investigate complaints against Bord Telecom Éireann and he has indicated that he considers the powers available to him under the Ombudsman Act, 1980, to be sufficient at the present [2216] time to allow him to investigate complaints against the company. He has also indicated that the problems being experienced by him with Bord Telecom Éireann do not arise from any inadequacy in the legislation but from the board's failure to respond within a reasonable time to his office.

The Ombudsman has been in communication with the company who accept that the present position is totally unsatisfactory. Special measures are now to be taken by the board to deal with the backlog of complaints that has arisen. Those measures include the allocation of extra staff and the introduction of a new monitoring procedure to provide against such delays in the future. The company aim to have the present situation rectified in a number of weeks. I would hope that this will be the case as it would be clearly unacceptable if the activities of an officer of the Oireachtas were to be hindered, or even given less than full co-operation, by any part of the public sector under his remit.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  It is now 3.30 p.m. and I must take up questions nominated for priority.

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