182. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the legislative proposals to establish a central funds office to provide for the audit of wards of court funds by the Comptroller and Auditor General have not been progressed in view of the commitment made in the Report and Financial Statements of the Office of the Accountant of the Courts of Justice for year ended 30 September 2009 (details supplied). [11646/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that section 5(1)(a) of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993 expressly excludes the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) from auditing a fund under the control of the courts. While my Department has examined the proposal to amend the 1993 Act to allow wards of court funds to be audited by the C&AG, I am advised that it is considered to be incompatible with the Constitution’s architecture and not consistent with Article 33.1.
Article 33.1 provides “There shall be a Comptroller and Auditor General to control on behalf of the State all disbursements and to audit all accounts of moneys administered by or under the authority of the Oireachtas”. The fact that the wardship funds are not public funds and are subject to the control and supervision of the High Court are considered to be essential obstacles to providing that the C&AG may audit such funds. In addition, it is considered that legislating for C&AG oversight of these funds could also undermine the independence of the judiciary and the administration of justice under Articles 34.1 and 35.2 of the Constitution.