Former Director accepts responsibility for wrongdoings under her watch

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Updated: January 25, 2017

The Auditor General’s Special Visa and other findings Report on the Immigration and Nationality Department covers most of the time that Ruth Meighan was Director of Immigration. Most of the irregularities and discrepancies occurred under her watch and even though ministers were using their influence for visa, passport and nationality applications, Meighan’s signature was the stamp of approval. At today’s Senate hearing, Meighan accepted responsibility for everything that occurred under her tenure.

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Did you hear the testimony of Ms. Marin?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“No.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“You had no interest in listening to what she had?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“I couldn’t listen to it at work I was busy.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Have you heard otherwise on the news some of the things that she said?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“No.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“No interest?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“No.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Interesting. You are aware that there was talk of a culture that existed in the department of immigration and I am going to describe it in my way; a culture of irregularities and illegality in the operations of the department under the period under refute, you are aware of that culture?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“I heard of it.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“You heard of it. Do you have any view or opinion on that?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“Only to say that if there is a culture that I was not aware about the irregularities or illegalities of anything that the report made reference to. While I was there all the information that was presented to me I took it to mean that those were valid and relevant information for what I needed to make decisions on, that is what I had to do unless I was to go out and physically do the checks, I had to take the information that was presented to me by my officers as relevant and accurate information and based on that I made my decisions.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“And you felt under no obligation to verify anything for yourself?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“If I found that there was need to get further clarification it was asked but all the information that was presented to me I took it to mean that those information was relevant and accurate and based on that I made my decision.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Who is responsible at the end of the day, when the officer below you has ticked all the boxes and says “this person qualifies for a visa.” and sends it to you, who is responsible when in fact that person does not qualify, you or the officer below?

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“I am the person who gives the approval for the visa.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“Who is responsible, who is accountable?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“I am the person that gives the approval so I believe I would be the person who is accountable for the issuance of that visa.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“And specifically with respect to passports, who is responsible and who is accountable for the period when you were there.”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“The director.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“You, even though you told us what you told us later. I want to be clear, because you are saying that you were not at all involved in the process.”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“No I was not.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“But you are taking…”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“That is the system that is there and it is still there, that is the way the process is being done.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“You are taking responsibility?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“For the period I was there.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay

“I take it the same applies with visas?”

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Director

“Yes.”

The hearings will continue next Wednesday.