It was reported in today’s The Irish Times that the former Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality, Seán Aylward, was appointed to the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture. I am flabbergasted by this decision. The committee carries out periodic visits, at any time and without notice, to any place where persons may be deprived of their liberty. Its purpose is to prevent ill-treatment of individuals who are deprived of their liberty in Europe. According to its website, members of the committee are independent and impartial experts from a variety of backgrounds, including lawyers, medical doctors and specialists in prison and police matters. When the Government came into power it made a wise decision to publicly advertise for membership of this committee through the Department of Justice and Equality. The advertisement stated that members of the committee would be chosen from candidates of high moral character who are known for their competence in the field of human rights or professional experience in the areas covered by the convention.
After examination of the applications by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, three candidates were put forward by the Department, namely, Seán Aylward, Dr. Mary Rogan and Donncha O’Connell.
I will mention no more names. The nominations were considered by the Parliamentary Assembly but the Committee of Ministers, which comprises ambassadors from members states, did not choose the Assembly’s preferred candidate. This obsession with finding positions for former Secretaries General has to stop.