Dáil Éireann - Volume 432 - 15 June, 1993

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Programme Managers.

[637] 12. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance whether the various programme managers are subject to the Official Secrets Act; if they are concerned with and have access to Cabinet memoranda; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Mr. B. Ahern: Programme managers are subject to the Official Secrets Act, 1963. They have access to whatever documentation is relevant to the satisfactory performance of their specific duties. On occasion, this may include Cabinet memoranda.

Mr. Rabbitte: This question was tabled to the Taoiseach and, like many other questions tabled to the Taoiseach——

Mr. Carey: They kicked to touch.

Mr. Rabbitte: ——I am mesmerised as to how it ended up in the lobby of the Minister for Finance. Therefore, some of the questions that I wanted to ask the Taoiseach are not pertinent. Are programme managers asked to make observations on Cabinet memoranda and, having regard to the fact that in most cases programme managers are not civil servants, what implications has this for Cabinet confidentiality, as recently defined? Having regard to the unfortunate situation at Clonmel where it has been reported that 1,200 jobs have been put at risk by over anxious politicking on the part of Labour Party backbencher does the Minister think that the unfortunate leak in question might have come from a programme manager as distinct from a Minister?

Mr. B. Ahern: The second part of the Deputy's question relates to a separate matter. Programme managers who are appointed from outside the Civil Service are appointed under excluding orders from the Civil Service Commissioners and are required to sign a contract. Therefore, they are civil servants and have to comply with the normal contract provisions regarding official secrecy and [638] integrity. If the Deputy wishes. I will read the terms into the record. It states:

You will during the term of your appointment be subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1963. You will agree not to disclose to third parties any confidential information, especially that with commercial potential either during or subsequent to the period of employment. You will also be bound by regulations regarding integrity and conflicts of interest which are generally applicable in the Civil Service and you shall be required to make a declaration of interests in such form as the Minister for Finance may require.

Mr. Cox: Is it not obvious from the definition, and given the need to protect commercial information, that the fact that a Member of this House had access to information in respect of the AST company flies in the face of the Official Secrets Act? Will the Minister agree that the Deputy, and his informants who are well placed, whoever they are, ought to be subject to this Act and ought to respect it given that there are now 1,200 casualties in Clonmel?

Mr. B. Ahern: That is a separate matter.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That appears to be an additional subject matter.