Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013

93.

Restriction on evidence, etc., of certain persons.

93.— (1) Where a committee is for the time being conducting any relevant proceedings—

( a) a civil servant, member of the Permanent Defence Force or the Garda Síochána, or relevant person, may give evidence to the committee for the purpose of establishing facts and giving the committee a factual account of a matter, including evidence as to anything said or communicated by any person during the course of events of which an account is being given, and

( b) without prejudice to the generality of paragraph (a)

(i) the committee may not ask a civil servant, member of the Permanent Defence Force or the Garda Síochána, or relevant person, to express an opinion on the merits of a policy of the Government or of a Minister of the Government or the merits of the objectives of such a policy, and

(ii) a civil servant, member of the Permanent Defence Force or the Garda Síochána, or a relevant person, may not express such an opinion.

(2)( a) Where—

(i) a specified person or relevant person is directed by a committee under this Act to give it a specified document or to attend before it to give it a specified document, and

(ii) the appropriate person is satisfied that a part, but not the whole, of the document consists of questioning by a specified person or relevant person of, or the expression by a specified person or relevant person of an opinion on, the merits of a policy of the Government or of a Minister of the Government or the merits of the objectives of such a policy,

the appropriate person shall direct in writing the specified person or relevant person, as the case may be, to give to the committee a copy (which may be a summary copy or redacted copy, or both), prepared under the supervision of the appropriate person, of so much of the document as does not consist of such part and the specified person or relevant person, as the case may be, shall comply with the direction.

( b) A document prepared pursuant to paragraph (a) shall be signed by the appropriate person and shall contain a statement to the effect that it is prepared pursuant to this subsection and is a copy (which may be a summary copy or redacted copy, or both) of so much of the specified document to which the direction concerned relates as does not consist of the part in which the merits of a policy or objectives referred to in paragraph (a) are questioned, or an opinion thereon is expressed, by a specified person or relevant person.

( c) A document that is given to a committee pursuant to a direction of the committee and purports to be a document prepared pursuant to this subsection and to comply with paragraph (b) shall be deemed, unless the contrary is shown, to be a copy of so much of the specified document to which the direction relates as does not consist of the part in which the merits of a policy or objectives referred to in paragraph (a) are questioned, or an opinion thereon is expressed, by a specified person or relevant person.

(3) subsection (2) shall not be construed to permit a summary copy or redacted copy of a document referred to in that subsection to exclude so much of the document as relates to establishing facts and giving a factual account of a matter, including an account as to anything said or communicated by any person during the course of events of which the document is giving an account.

(4) In this section—

“ appropriate person ”—

( a) in relation to a specified person who is a civil servant, means the principal officer of the Department of State or other branch or office of the public service in which the specified person is employed,

( b) in relation to a specified person who is a member of the Defence Forces, means the Secretary General of the Department of Defence,

( c) in relation to a specified person who is a member of the Garda Síochána, means the Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality,

( d) in relation to a person who is a member of staff of a public service body, the principal officer of that body, and

( e) in relation to a relevant person, the principal officer of the body concerned referred to in the other enactment concerned;

“relevant person” means a person who, under any other enactment, is prohibited, whilst reporting to a House or a committee, from expressing an opinion on the merits of a policy of the Government or of a Minister of the Government or on the merits of the objectives of such a policy or words to the like effect;

“specified document” means a document that is the subject of a direction for the purposes of particular proceedings of a committee and that was created before the commencement of those proceedings;

“ specified person ” means a person who is a civil servant or member of the Permanent Defence Force or the Garda Síochána.