Ombudsman’s appointment prompts thorny exchanges in Parliament

Ombudsman’s appointment prompts thorny exchanges in Parliament

The Gibraltar Government and the GSD Opposition clashed in Parliament yesterday over the manner in which the new Ombudsman has been appointed.
The thorny exchanges came after Chief Minister Fabian Picardo moved a motion calling on the House to approve by resolution the appointment of Dilip Dayaram Tirathdas as Ombudsman for public services.
In doing so he highlighted Mr Tirathdas’s background which includes a career that spans 40-years in Government services.
The Chief Minister said the post required somebody who had a deep understanding of the workings of government, the ability to understand people’s rights and the maturity and manner with people one would expect an Ombudsman to have.
“With that in mind, the name of Dilip Dayaram Tirathdas was proposed to the Government and we thought it was absolutely the right sort of characteristics that he represented that would make for a good Ombudsman,” Mr Picardo said.
But GSD Leader Roy Clinton indicated that his MPs would exercise their right to abstain from the vote flagging concerns as to whether a retired senior civil servant is the best person for such an appointment.
Mr Clinton, while underscoring that the GSD had “full confidence” in Mr Tirathdas as a man of integrity and ability, questioned the process that had been followed in selecting the candidate for the post.
He added that the GSD would have welcomed the advertising of the post both within the public and private sector, noting that the job is well remunerated and would have attracted interest both inside and outside the civil service.
Responding, Mr Picardo accused his counterpart of impugning Mr Tirathdas ability to be impartial.
“I understand that they are gasping for political breath and they’re looking for any point to take,” he said, adding that “they should take the good ones, not the bad ones.”
“The crisis in the GSD should not become an issue that leads them simply in an attempt to stay alive politically to impugn somebody’s impartiality,” Mr Picardo said, drawing calls from Mr Clinton for a point of order.
Mr Clinton said references to the GSD or its future were not relevant to the debate.
With the GSD having raised a point of order, Speaker Adolfo Canepa allowed the Chief Minister to continue in order to seek his view on the question of relevance.
But as Mr Picardo stated “their party’s fracture, the destruction of the fabric of the Opposition of the GSD…”, Mr Clinton objected again.
Mr Canepa insisted he would take views from both sides of the House on the matter and again told Mr Picardo to continue.
The issue, the Chief Minister said, was that the GSD was taking a position against Mr Tirathdas, as well as other political positions, “simply to try and remain politically relevant”.
Mr Canepa ruled that passing references to a party’s political future would be allowed, adding that he had only permitted the Chief Minister to expand on his views in response to the point of order raised by the GSD.
The motion was approved with the Government MPs and Marlene Hassan Nahon voting in favour of the appointment and remaining Opposition MPs abstaining.

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