Your article "Accountant offers free audit of Dáil expenses" (News, 9 January) was misleading.

Firstly, the article in question inferred that the Oireachtas had failed to reply to a query from a member of the public. Untrue. In fact, the Houses of the Oireachtas effectively responds to about 3,000 enquiries from the general public every year. We know the importance of valuing the efforts of those who seek to ask questions and scrutinise the parliamentary system, especially as part of a modern communications service. In the case of Enid O'Dowd, she wrote to the Department of Finance, not the Houses of the Oireachtas. To be clear, when Enid seeks information from the Houses of the Oireachtas Service, her enquiries are handled promptly and respectfully. Furthermore, your article fails to point out that Enid received a comprehensive reply to her queries over two months ago. The Department of Finance, the body she sought a response from, responded in detail in a letter sent on 11 November. No reply is therefore outstanding from the Houses of the Oireachtas Service.

Finally, an open, public tender process inviting auditing services has been undertaken by the Houses of the Oireachtas in accordance with public procurement rules. Every potential auditing service provider, including Enid O'Dowd's, was given an equal opportunity to bid to provide this service at whatever cost they chose. Despite publicising an interest in providing such a service, I can confirm that Enid did not bid to provide auditing services to the Houses of the Oireachtas Service.

Procurement rules guarantee fairness and openness and exist purely in the interest of avoiding preferential treatment or accusations of giving advantage to one potential service provider over another. Yes, these are strict and inflexible procedures but this is in the public's interest. I would also suggest that they are widely understood in the accountancy and auditing sector. In the case of this tender process, 45 individual expressions of interest were received.

Why you did not ask Enid whether she had actually followed up on her desire to provide this service, I do not know. Furthermore, why Enid didn't simply contact the Houses of the Oireachtas directly last September to pursue the commitment she made on Liveline is somewhat baffling.

What I do know is that a query from a member of the public has been responded to by the department that the information was actually sought from. I also know that despite the Houses of the Oireachtas Service publicly inviting tenders to provide an auditing service, Enid O'Dowd did not follow up on her Liveline declaration with a bid to provide this service.

Mark Mulqueen

Head of Communications

Houses of the Oireachtas

Leinster House, Dublin 2