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22 2002

OMBUDSMAN FOR CHILDREN ACT, 2002

Chapter 6

Miscellaneous

Accounts and audits.

17. —(1) The Ombudsman for Children shall keep in such form as may be approved of by the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, all proper and usual accounts of moneys received or expended by him or her in the performance of his or her functions under this Act, including an income and expenditure account and a balance sheet and, in particular, shall keep all such special accounts as the Minister may from time to time direct.

(2) Accounts kept in pursuance of this section shall be submitted, not later than 3 months after the end of the financial year to which they relate, by the Ombudsman for Children to the Comptroller and Auditor General for audit and, immediately after the audit, a copy of the income and expenditure account, the balance sheet and of any other (if any) accounts kept pursuant to this section as the Minister, after consultation with the Minister for Finance, may direct and a copy of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the accounts shall be presented to the Minister who shall cause copies thereof to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

Attendance before Public Accounts Committee.

18. —(1) The Ombudsman for Children shall, whenever required to do so by the Committee of Dáil Éireann established under the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann to examine and report to Dáil Éireann on the appropriation accounts and reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General, give evidence to that Committee on—

(a) the regularity and propriety of the transactions recorded or required to be recorded in any book or other record of account subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General which the Ombudsman for Children is required to prepare under this Act,

(b) the economy and efficiency of the Ombudsman for Children in the use of resources,

(c) the systems, procedures and practices employed by the Ombudsman for Children for the purposes of evaluating the effectiveness of the operation of the office of the Ombudsman for Children, and

(d) any matter affecting the Ombudsman for Children referred to in a special report of the Comptroller and Auditor General under section 11(2) of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act, 1993 , or in any other report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (in so far as it relates to a matter specified in paragraph (a), (b) or (c)) that is laid before Dáil Éireann.

(2) In the performance of his or her duties under this section, the Ombudsman for Children shall not question or express an opinion on the merits of any policy of the Government or a Minister of the Government or on the merits of the objectives of such a policy.

Attendance before other committees of Houses of Oireachtas.

19. —(1) Subject to subsection (2), the Ombudsman for Children shall, at the request in writing of a committee, attend before it to account for the general administration of the office of the Ombudsman for Children as may be required by the committee.

(2) The Ombudsman for Children shall not be required to account to a committee for any matter—

(a) relating solely to an individual complaint made to him or her under this Act in relation to an action, or

(b) which is or has been or may at a future time be the subject of proceedings before a court or tribunal in the State.

(3) Where the Ombudsman for Children is of opinion that a matter in respect of which he or she is requested to give account before a committee is a matter to which subsection (2) applies, he or she shall inform the committee of that opinion and the reasons therefor and, unless the information is conveyed to the committee at a time when the Ombudsman for Children is before it, the information shall be so conveyed in writing.

(4) Where the Ombudsman for Children has informed a committee of his or her opinion in accordance with subsection (3) and the committee does not withdraw the request referred to in subsection (1) in so far as it relates to a matter the subject of that opinion—

(a) the Ombudsman for Children may, not later than 21 days after being informed by the committee of its decision not to do so, apply to the High Court in a summary manner for a determination as to whether the matter is one to which subsection (2) applies, or

(b) the chairperson of the committee may, on behalf of the committee, make such an application,

and the High Court may determine the matter.

(5) Pending the determination of an application under subsection (4), the Ombudsman for Children shall not attend before the committee to give account for the matter the subject of the application.

(6) If the High Court determines that the matter concerned is one to which subsection (2) applies, the committee shall withdraw the request referred to in subsection (1) in relation to the matter, but if the High Court determines that subsection (2) does not apply, the Ombudsman for Children shall attend before the committee to give account for the matter.

(7) In this section “committee” means a committee appointed by either House of the Oireachtas or jointly by both Houses of the Oireachtas, other than—

(a) the Committee referred to in section 18 ,

(b) the Committee on Members' Interests of Dáil Éireann, or

(c) the Committee on Members' Interests of Seanad Éireann,

or a subcommittee of such a committee.

Amendment of Freedom of Information Act, 1997.

20. —The Freedom of Information Act, 1997 , is amended—

(a) in section 2(1), by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (j) in the definition of “head of a public body”:

“(jj) in relation to the office of the Ombudsman for Children, the Ombudsman for Children,”,

(b) in section 46(1)(c)—

(i) by the deletion of “or” at the end of subparagraph (ii) and the substitution of the following subparagraphs for subparagraph (iii):

“(iii) an examination or investigation carried out by the Ombudsman under the Ombudsman Act 1980, or

(iv) an examination or investigation carried out by the Ombudsman for Children under the Ombudsman for Children Act, 2002,”,

(ii) in clause (II), by the substitution of “, the Office of the Ombudsman or the office of the Ombudsman for Children” for “or the Office of the Ombudsman”,

and

(c) in paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule, by the insertion of “the office of the Ombudsman for Children,”.

Staff.

21. —(1) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, appoint such and so many persons to be members of the staff of the Ombudsman for Children as the Minister may determine.

(2) A member of the staff of the Ombudsman for Children shall be a civil servant in the Civil Service of the State.

(3) The Ombudsman for Children may delegate to any member of his or her staff any of his or her functions under this Act except those conferred by subsections (5) and (7) of section 13 , section 18 or by this section.

(4) The Minister may delegate to the Ombudsman for Children the powers exercisable by him or her under the Civil Service Commissioners Act, 1956 , and the Civil Service Regulation Acts, 1956 to 1996, as the appropriate authority in relation to members of the staff of the Ombudsman for Children, and, if he or she does so, then, so long as the delegation remains in force—

(a) those powers shall, in lieu of being exercisable by the Minister, be exercisable by the Ombudsman for Children, and

(b) the Ombudsman for Children shall, in lieu of the Minister, be, for the purposes of this Act, the appropriate authority in relation to members of the staff of the Ombudsman for Children.