Without Fear or Favour: The tension between accountability and independence in the Public Sector

June 22, 2018

Our Public & Regulatory Summer Evening Seminar took place yesterday evening (21st June) at the Merrion Hotel. The title of the evening’s presentation was “Without Fear or Favour: The tension between accountability and independence in the Public Sector”. Justice Mary Ellen Ring, Chairperson of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and McDowell Purcell Associate, Barry Magee addressed an engaged audience on the tension which can often arise for Public Sector Bodies between the dual requirements of maintaining their independence whilst being fully accountable for the discharge of their functions.

Justice Mary Ellen Ring explored the different aspects of accountability, and focused on how GSOC provides for accountability whilst protecting its independence and the challenges it faces in ensuring accountability to its various stakeholders. Associate, Barry Magee, who was formerly Chairperson of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, addressed the legal requirement for independence, the structures which must be in place to protect this independence and the difficulties arising from a perceived lack of independence from a bodies’ parent department.

Managing Partner JP McDowell states “The evening was a great success. We were delighted to welcome Justice Mary Ellen Ring as our guest speaker– she provided terrific insight into challenges GSOC faces in ensuring accountability to all of its stakeholders, while at the same time trying to protect its statutory independence. This challenge is one faced by the majority of statutory bodies, and so her viewpoint has really resonated with last night’s audience.” 
 
The presentation was followed by a drinks and canapés reception in the Garden Terrace.

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