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The Guidelines 

Introduction to the guidelines 

9.     These guidelines for public servants have been drawn up by the Standards Commission, after consultation with the Committees on Members' Interests of Dáil and Seanad Éireann, as required under Section 25 (1)(a) of the 1995 Act.  They relate specifically to public servants. 

10.   Separate guidelines have been published by the Standards Commission for office holders (i.e., Ministers, Ministers of State, an Attorney General who is a member of either House of the Oireachtas, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of each House and the Chairman of a Committee of either House or of a joint Committee of both Houses, where the Committee has been designated for the purposes of the legislation).

11.   The guidelines provide information on the steps that public servants who are covered by the Ethics Acts need to take in order to comply with the requirements of the legislation.  In addition to the guidelines, public servants may seek advice from the Standards Commission concerning any provision of the legislation or the application of any such provision in any particular case.

12.   Public servants must act in accordance with the guidelines and any advice given by the Standards Commission, unless by so doing they would be contravening another provision of the legislation. 

13.   Where requested, advice must be provided by the Standards Commission within 21 days or, alternatively, it may decline to give advice.  Ideally, to eliminate any risk of misunderstanding, requests for advice should be made in writing (including by e-mail to sipo@sipo.gov.ie).  Normally, the Standards Commission will provide, or confirm, all advice of a substantive nature, in writing.

14.   When a request for advice is made to the Standards Commission as referred to in paragraph 11, the provision concerned of the Ethics Acts will not, as regards the person who made the request, apply in relation to that person during the period from the making of the request to the time when the advice is given or the Standards Commission declines to give advice.

15.   These guidelines will be admissible in any proceedings before a court or other tribunal or a Committee on Members' Interests of either House of the Oireachtas or the Standards Commission and any provision of the guidelines that appears to any of the aforementioned bodies to be relevant to a question in the proceedings may be taken into account in determining the question.

16.   A number of key terms arise in the legislation and in these guidelines and a list of definitions from the legislation is provided in Part 8.