Circular 4/2002: Standards in Public Office Act, 2001, issued by the Department of Finance on 14 January 2002, provides that every newly appointed office holder should be informed of his or her obligations under the Ethics Acts in relation to their personal appointees by way of a minute from the Head of their Department or by the Runaí Aire.
1. A "special adviser" means a person who
(a) occupies or occupied an excluded position (within the meaning of the Civil Service Commissioners Act, 1956) having been selected for appointment to that position by an office holder personally otherwise than by means of a competitive procedure, or
(b) is or was employed under a contract for services by an office holder, having been selected for the award of the contract by an office holder personally otherwise than by means of a competitive procedure,
and whose function, or principal function, is, or was, to provide an office holder with advice or other assistance. This could include, inter alia, Personal Advisers, Personal Assistants, Personal Secretaries, Press Officers, certain drivers, etc. Such an appointment or employment ends not later than the date on which the office holder for whom the person is acting as a special adviser ceases to hold the office to which the appointment or employment referred. This will be deemed to be a condition of the special adviser's appointment or employment.
A "special adviser" also includes a person appointed by order of the Government, on the request of a Minister of the Government, pursuant to section 11 of the Public Service Management Act, 1997. In such case the appointment, if it is to a Minister, ends on the date on which the Minister ceases to hold the office by reference to which he or she is an office holder. If the appointment is to a Minister of State, it ends on the expiration of the assignment of the Minister of State to his or her original Department or Office, i.e. the appointment would expire if the Minister of State's appointment ended or if the Minister of State was reassigned to another Department or Office.
2. The provisions of the Ethics Acts outlined in paragraphs 3 to 7 below apply to persons in the special adviser category whose remuneration exceeds the second long service increment salary (standard scale) of a higher executive officer in the Civil Service. They also apply to special advisers appointed pursuant to section 11 of the Public Service Management Act, 1997.
3. A special adviser will, each year not later than 31 January, furnish to the office holder and the Standards Commission a statement of interests (as described in Appendix 2 of these guidelines) covering the period from 1 January (or the date of commencement, if later) up to 31 December of the preceding year. The statement should contain information, of which the special adviser has actual knowledge, relating to his or her own interests and those of his or her spouse or child or child of a spouse, which could materially influence the special adviser in, or in relation to, the performance of the functions of the special advisership.
4. Where a person, for whatever reason, ceases to be a special adviser, the person will provide both the office holder and the Standards Commission with a statement of interests (including the interests of a spouse or child) within twenty eight days of the date of cessation. Such statement would cover the period from 1 January, or the date of commencement, if later, in the year in question up to the date of cessation.
5. A special adviser is also required to provide a statement of the facts to the office holder and the Standards Commission if a specific function falls to be performed by the special adviser and he or she, or a connected person, has a material interest in a matter to which the function relates. The statement should be furnished as soon as possible. In such circumstances, the special adviser will not perform the function unless there are compelling reasons to do so. If the special adviser does propose to perform the function, he or she will, before, or if that is not reasonably possible, as soon as may be afterwards, provide a statement in writing of the compelling reasons to the office holder and the Standards Commission.
6. A special adviser will undertake that he or she will not engage in any trade, profession, vocation or other occupation which might reasonably be seen to be capable of interfering, or being incompatible, with the role of special adviser.
7. It is deemed to be a condition of the appointment or employment of a special adviser that the person will comply with the requirements set out in paragraphs 3 to 6 above.
Laying of Documents before the Houses of the Oireachtas
8. The following documents relating to a special adviser referred to in paragraph 2 above must be laid by the office holder before each House of the Oireachtas:
(i) a statement of the qualifications of the person relevant to the appointment as special adviser,
(ii) a copy of any statement of his or her own interests furnished by the special adviser to the office holder [it should be noted that, in order to facilitate the laying of the special adviser's own interests statement only, special advisers may furnish separate forms containing statements of their own interests and those of a spouse or civil partner or child. The statements relating to spouses, civil partners or children are not required to be laid before either House of the Oireachtas.]
9. The following documents are laid before each House for all special advisers, regardless of remuneration,
(i) a copy of the contract or a statement in writing of the terms and conditions under which the person acts, or has acted, as special adviser,
(ii) a statement as to whether the person is a relative of the office holder.
Note:The requirements at paragraph 8(i) and paragraph 9 above are once-off rather than annual requirements. The documents would not require to be laid more than once unless there was a significant change in the information to be provided. General round pay increases may be ignored for this purpose.
10. The documentation described in paragraphs 8(i) and 9 above must be laid by the office holder before each House of the Oireachtas not more than 60 days after the person was appointed or employed to act as a special adviser.
11. Any annual statement of a special adviser's own interests, as described in paragraph 3 above, which
has been furnished to an office holder must be laid by the office holder before both Houses not later than 60 days after 31 January, i.e. generally not later than 1 April (or 2 April in a leap year).
12. Any statement of interests furnished by a special adviser on leaving the position, as described in paragraph 4 above, must be laid by the office holder before each House within sixty days of its receipt.
13. Where a person ceases to be an office holder, he or she must, within 60 days from the date of its receipt, lay before each House any statement of a special adviser's own interests which was furnished to the office holder by a special adviser whose appointment was terminated as a consequence, as well as any annual, or other, statement of a special adviser's own interests which, up to the date of leaving office, had not already been laid.
14. The requirement at paragraph 13 above also applies to documents, not already laid, relating to the appointment or employment of a special adviser, the qualifications of a special adviser and whether the special adviser is a relative of the office holder.
15. Where an office holder dies or becomes incapacitated, the laying of documents pertaining to his or her special advisers becomes a matter for the Taoiseach.
16. The procedure for laying documents before the Houses of the Oireachtas is relatively simple - Department of Finance Confidential Circular 3/78 refers. The form to accompany documentation is obtainable from the Stationery Office; it should also be available within each Department. Three copies of each document to be laid, together with the appropriate form, should be forwarded to the Clerk of each House; the envelope should be marked for the attention of the Librarian.
17. The annual statement of a special adviser's own interests may be the only document which needs to be
laid each year if the documents relating to qualifications, terms of appointment or employment and whether the person is a relative were laid in a previous year and the information contained therein has not changed significantly.