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Making a Complaint under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001

Section 22 of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 (the 1995 Act) allows certain categories of person to make complaints to the Standards in Public Office Commission (the Standards Commission) about alleged contraventions of the 1995 Act by different classes of person who have obligations under that Act.

Section 4 of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (the 2001 Act) allows any person to make a complaint to the Standards Commission about an alleged "specified act" by a "specified person".

These provisions are set out in more detail below.

Local Authority complaints

While it is open to any person to make a complaint to the Standards Commission in line with the provisions of the Ethics Acts the Commission requests that all local avenues should be exhausted before such a complaint is made.

Accordingly, if a person considers that an employee or a member of a local authority may have contravened a provision of Part 15 of the Local Government Act 2001, a person must raise the matter with the local authority ethics registrar in the first instance. If a person is not satisfied with the outcome of the consideration of the matter following referral to the ethics registrar, he or she may make a complaint to the Standards Commission.


Making a complaint

Section 22 of the 1995 Act and section 4 of the 2001 Act (the Ethics Acts) provide that all complaints are to be made "in writing". In order to enable the Standards Commission to properly discharge its function of deciding whether or not it is appropriate to carry out an investigation of a complaint, it is essential that it be as detailed and as specific as possible. The Standards Commission is, therefore, of the view that every complaint made under the Ethics Acts should

  • clearly identify the person against whom the complaint is made
  • specify the alleged contravention of the provisions of the 1995 Act and/or the 2001 Act which is the subject-matter of the complaint and
  • set out in detail the basis for alleging that contravention.

Where documentary material is relevant, copies of that material should be furnished with the complaint where possible.

In the event that you wish to make a complaint under the Ethics Acts please forward details by post to:

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97

Alternatively you can forward details by email to complaints@sipo.ie

Anonymous complaints

Section 8 of the 2001 Act precludes the Standards Commission from investigating a complaint made to it unless the identity of the person making the complaint is disclosed. However, the Standards Commission may, if it considers it appropriate to do so, restrict the disclosure of such identity for the purposes of the investigation of the complaint or otherwise in the interests of justice.

Section 22 Complaints

The following persons can make a complaint to the Standards Commission about an alleged contravention of the disclosure provisions of the 1995 Act:

  • A member of the public
  • A member of Dáil Éireann or of Seanad Éireann
  • The Minister for Finance
  • A Minister of the Government
  • The "appropriate authority" (within the meaning of the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1956, but excluding a Minister of the Government) in relation to a civil servant
  • The Committee on Members' Interests of Dáil Éireann or the Committee on Members' Interests of Seanad Éireann

The persons listed above can make a complaint about holders of certain positions. Details of the categories of such positions can be found in Section 22 of the Ethics Act 1995

Section 4 Complaints

Any person can make a complaint to the Standards Commission where he or she considers that a "specified person", or a person who is a connected person, may
1. have done a "specified act";
2. contravened a provision of the Ethics Acts or
3. contravened a provision of the Electoral Act 1997, as amended (the Electoral Acts).

A specified act is an act made, or an omission done, after the commencement of Section 2 of the 2001 Act (i.e. after 10 December 2001) that is:

  • inconsistent with the proper performance by the specified person of the functions of the office or position by reference to which he or she is such a person or with the maintenance of confidence in such performance by the general public, and
  • the matter is one of significant public importance.

More information can be found in Section 4 of the Standards Act 2001

Investigation

The procedures which the Standards Commission follow in any case where it considers that an investigation under the Ethics Acts into the matter complained of is appropriate, are set out in its 'Statement of Intended Procedures'.

Investigation of complaints received under the Electoral Acts:

In addition to the investigation of complaints under the Ethics Acts, the Standards Commission has a separate supervisory function to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act 1997 (as amended). Where a person considers that the Electoral Acts may have been contravened, whether by a "specified person" or otherwise, he /she may contact the Standards Commission, which, if it considers it appropriate to do so, will investigate the matter.

Section 4(4) of the Electoral Acts provides that the Standards Commission may make such enquiries as it considers appropriate and may require any person to furnish any information or document which may be required for the purposes of its duties under the Electoral Acts.

Should you wish to make a complaint under the Electoral Acts please forward details by post to:

Standards in Public Office Commission
18 Lower Leeson Street
Dublin 2
D02 HE97

Alternatively you can forward details by email to complaints@sipo.ie