Tomorrow, the winners of the bizarre Your Country, Your Call competition will be announced. Apart from a few isolated incidents, the media has avoided serious scrutiny of the competition and its organiser, An Smaoineamh Mór.
The following are some questions that might reasonably be asked:
- Who is An Smaoineamh Mór?
- Given that one of its stated aims is to lobby the Government for legislative change, has it registered with the Standards in Public Office Commission?
- Why has it accepted donations which exceed the limit allowed in respect of donations for political purposes?
- Why does the Government feel the need to make a significant cash donation to assist An Smaoineamh Mór in such lobbying, at a time of massive cutbacks in public spending?
- Why does the Department of Enterprise not want to know about these questions?
These and more have been explored in more detail over on Tuppenceworth.ie, also the best source for future updates.
PS. Yesterday’s big news story was the 2009 report of the Comptroller & Auditor General. The C&AG is, as pointed out by Simon in the comments below, a member of the Standards in Public Office Commission with which it appears An Smaoineamh Mór should be registered.
Two of the high level comments by the C&AG in his press release, relating to “administrative matters that may merit consideration” are surely relevant to the existing or proposed provision of funding by the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Innovation to An Smaoineamh Mór:
- The need to improve the capacity of departments to evaluate costs and benefits of proposed programmes so that evidence-based information and analysis is available to underpin decision making
- The need to ensure that, where the State uses third parties to deliver programmes, there is an adequate control and inspection process to guarantee the regularity of expenditure and the correctness of the charge to public funds