€175,000 justice job still vacant a year on

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

The €175,000 secretary general position at the Department of Justice may not be filled during the current Government’s tenure, reports the Irish Independent.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has made no indication as to when she will fill the role, the Dáil’s spending watchdog was told.

The position was left vacant last July when former secretary general Brian Purcell left in the wake of a series of controversies – among them the resignation of former Justice Minister Alan Shatter and of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

A report also found that the department’s relationship with the gardaí was deferential and that there was “a closed, secretive and silo-driven culture” including “significant leadership and management problems”.

Speaking to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), acting general, Noel Waters, said he had not applied for the €175,000 role but that he was considering it when it is re-advertised.

He said six people had applied but that none were considered suitable by the Public Appointments Service.

“We have come out of a very difficult situation. The minister has said this may be a demotivating factor for people in making applications,” he added.

Indeed, he said he did not know when the job would be offered again, noting: “The minister has said she will advertise the position when the time is right.”

John Deasy, PAC vice chairman, doubted the appointment would be made in the lifetime of the current Government.

“The reality is this administration is coming to an end, so nothing will happen before the general election. It is a political appointee effectively, so we’re talking about over six months,” he said.

Shane Ross, a committee member, said that following recent controversies, it was “quite sinister that this role has not been filled”.

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