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Civil Servants and Politics

  • 02-03-2021 11:51pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 358 ✭✭ Pronto63


    A question for long serving / older / wiser civil servants out there.

    Just reading the following circular:

    https://circulars.gov.ie/pdf/circular/finance/2009/09.pdf

    and I noted the following paragraph:

    "are prohibited from engaging in politics i.e. they may not contribute to public debate and may not support or oppose a candidate or party either in writing, by public debate or by contribution to the media (e.g. letter writing to newspapers, contribution to television or radio programmes, discussions on the internet, etc.), except if required to do so as part of their official duties."

    My questions are as follows:

    Does this prohibit me from ranting (anonymously) on boards about crime, tax etc. Even though my payslip isn't made out to "Pronto63"?
    Does this prohibit me from writing to my TD and ranting?
    Can I publicly write to a newspaper (letters to the editor type thing) as long as I don't identify myself as a serving civil servant. Just sign it "Joe Bloggs, Cork"?
    I ask because I'm getting fed up with the state of the country and want to start writing and ranting!


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 395 ✭✭ whampiri


    Pronto63 wrote: »
    A question for long serving / older / wiser civil servants out there.

    Just reading the following circular:

    https://circulars.gov.ie/pdf/circular/finance/2009/09.pdf

    and I noted the following paragraph:

    "are prohibited from engaging in politics i.e. they may not contribute to public debate and may not support or oppose a candidate or party either in writing, by public debate or by contribution to the media (e.g. letter writing to newspapers, contribution to television or radio programmes, discussions on the internet, etc.), except if required to do so as part of their official duties."

    My questions are as follows:

    Does this prohibit me from ranting (anonymously) on boards about crime, tax etc. Even though my payslip isn't made out to "Pronto63"?
    Does this prohibit me from writing to my TD and ranting?
    Can I publicly write to a newspaper (letters to the editor type thing) as long as I don't identify myself as a serving civil servant. Just sign it "Joe Bloggs, Cork"?
    I ask because I'm getting fed up with the state of the country and want to start writing and ranting!

    Can you do it? yes. Should you? No. Will you be sanctioned for doing it anonymously and not caught? No. Could you be dismissed if caught? Possibly.

    I've a number of years done in the service and can tell you that unless you're unhappy in your job or feel very strongly about an issue, stay a million miles away from politics. You never know who might be the minister in charge of your department in the future and while it's unlikely that your single voice would be noticed, Ireland is too small a place to risk your job.


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 7,810 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Jim2007


    Pronto63 wrote: »
    A question for long serving / older / wiser civil servants out there.

    Just reading the following circular:

    https://circulars.gov.ie/pdf/circular/finance/2009/09.pdf

    and I noted the following paragraph:

    "are prohibited from engaging in politics i.e. they may not contribute to public debate and may not support or oppose a candidate or party either in writing, by public debate or by contribution to the media (e.g. letter writing to newspapers, contribution to television or radio programmes, discussions on the internet, etc.), except if required to do so as part of their official duties."

    My questions are as follows:

    Does this prohibit me from ranting (anonymously) on boards about crime, tax etc. Even though my payslip isn't made out to "Pronto63"?
    Does this prohibit me from writing to my TD and ranting?
    Can I publicly write to a newspaper (letters to the editor type thing) as long as I don't identify myself as a serving civil servant. Just sign it "Joe Bloggs, Cork"?
    I ask because I'm getting fed up with the state of the country and want to start writing and ranting!

    So where in there does it say that you may do so annolmusly???

    There is no one looking over your shoulder, so of course you can go ahead and do so. But if caught, you have to accept that there will be serious consequences for you.

    This is a common requirement in most countries. Civil servants need to at a minimum appear to be neutral, they are required to implement whatever the policy of the government and you can't do that well if you are seen to be taken taking sides.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 47 ✭✭✭ dragx


    Pronto63 wrote: »
    Does this prohibit me from ranting (anonymously) on boards about crime, tax etc. Even though my payslip isn't made out to "Pronto63"?

    Could someone trace Pronto63 to who your payslip is made out to if they really wanted to? Does Pronto63 use the same username on other websites? That would always be my fear. You're never that anonymous, especially on a website like boards that requires a sign up with a personal email, even if you used a throwaway.
    Pronto63 wrote: »
    Does this prohibit me from writing to my TD and ranting?

    Define ranting. I would see no issue if you were to write your TD regarding issues in your local area, for example potholes and antisocial behaviour. If you're just having a go at them without being constructive, maybe.
    Pronto63 wrote: »
    Can I publicly write to a newspaper (letters to the editor type thing) as long as I don't identify myself as a serving civil servant. Just sign it "Joe Bloggs, Cork"?

    Again, it really depends on how secure you are that you'll remain anonymous. Ireland is very, very small. In my last role (public service) you couldn't throw a rock without hitting a manager whose cousin worked in another department.


  • Registered Users Posts: 358 ✭✭ Pronto63


    Thanks all for the replies.
    I guess I’ll just have to cool my jets a little!


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 7,810 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Jim2007


    dragx wrote: »
    Could someone trace Pronto63 to who your payslip is made out to if they really wanted to? Does Pronto63 use the same username on other websites? That would always be my fear. You're never that anonymous, especially on a website like boards that requires a sign up with a personal email, even if you used a throwaway.

    If the government is coming after you, it will be just a court order...


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,194 ✭✭✭ An Ri rua


    Pronto63 wrote: »
    Thanks all for the replies.
    I guess I’ll just have to cool my jets a little!

    You most likely already signed that circular already. And therefore agreed to be bound by it.

    Also, regarding political participation, your grade dictates that.
    Common sense would point to certao never directly contacting a politician or the media while a civil servant. You have sworn oaths of service and discretion, so obey them.


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