The Minister has completely reneged on his promise to openly tender for the position of Chair – PLC
The Pro Life Campaign has called for the Minister for Health to re-advertise the role of Chairperson of the Three Year Review of the abortion law. The appointment process must be open to expressions of public interest through standard public procurement procedures, in line with commitments made by the Minister for Health in December 2021.
Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Síle Quinlan said:
“The recent in-house appointment of a chair to oversee the abortion law review was a clear departure from the commitments made by Minister Donnelly to members of the Oireachtas Health Committee on 8th December 2021. He stated publicly that the process of selecting a chair must undergo a public procurement process through the government’s eTenders website. He even acknowledged that, per the advice he received, not to do so would be acting illegally.”
“Over the course of December and January, no such public tender was issued. On 19th January, Minister Donnelly indicated a departure from a free and fair open competition by acknowledging he had identified a ‘small number of candidates’ whom he judged suitably qualified, who were then invited to apply for the role. On 26th January, a barrister was appointed by the Minister as chair. Most recently, the Minister claimed that a tender was in fact issued but that ‘given the expertise required’, the process was restricted to the small cohort identified by the Minister.”
“By imposing a chair without honouring his commitment to have the role be selected through public tender, the Minister has misled the Oireachtas Health Committee and reneged on his commitments. This is a serious matter and it casts a shadow over how the rest of the review will be handled and has undermined its credibility. How can the Minister seriously claim that this role is ‘independent’ when the selection process has been conducted in such a secretive and unaccountable manner?”
“In order to rebuild a semblance of faith and goodwill in the review process, the Minister must go back to the drawing board and honour his original commitment by reopening the selection process to a public tender. The Minister’s contention that the right person can only be found through a private process is nonsensical.”
“If the Minister is genuinely interested in having an independent and eminently qualified chairperson to lead the review, he should have nothing to fear from an open public procurement process.”