Letter to the Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture outlining the behaviour of the Principle Officer John Quinlan and Chief Fisheries Inspector David Jackson in suppressing the views of Inland Fisheries Ireland [IFI] on the impact of sea lice while promoting the views of the Department. In doing so, the officials refused to provide the IFI Report to the Commission on the grounds that it was not published while travelling to Brussels five days later to present their own unpublished views. The result of their actions was to breech Ireland’s duty of loyal cooperation to the European Commission under the Treaty of Rome and of the ‘Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour’ by directly undermining the principles of ‘honesty, integrity and impartiality’.
The Department of the Taoiseach [previously Foreign Affairs] responded to the complaint of maladministration over the Pilot investigation into salmon and sea lice on 14 November, 2013. This is a copy of the summary of the response provided to FIE by the Ombudsman dated 3 January 2014. FIE’s response to this dated 14 January 2014 is the next document in the chronology.
FIE’s response to The Department of the Taoiseach [previously Foreign Affairs] 14 November, 2013 response to the complaint of maladministration over the Pilot investigation into salmon and sea lice which was provided to FIE by the Ombudsman on 3 January 2014
In a letter to Brendan Howlan, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, FIE points out that the Freedom of Information and the Access to Environmental Information Commissioners are already ‘stretched beyond its limit’ according to the 2012 Annual Report. More than 56% of the cases were not resolved within one year, and 22% have been on hand for more than two years. Only 18% of the cases dealt with under FoI were decided within the legal timeframe. However, the resource situation has worsened considerably in the last year, with eight separate litigations having now been taken against the office, compared to a single one when the last Annual Report was published in May 2013. According to the Agency, no specific funds have been provided by the Minister to cover the substantial outlay required for legal costs, draining staff and non–staff resources, in spite of repeated requests. The First Aarhus Implementation Report released by the Government this week dismisses concerns over funding shortfalls. It states that the Ombudsman’s Office allocates funding for the Information Commissioner and that it is ‘open to that Office to apply to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for further funding if required.’ FIE is seeking redress under the Aarhus Convention for the Government’s Report’s misrepresentation of the situation and their failure to properly resource the Agencies.