“Eamon Gilmore, leader of the Irish Labour party, said he hoped the cabinet would decide on Tuesday to set a date for a national vote on endorsing full equality for same-sex marriages. Gilmore said it would be “important to win this referendum” which could be held as early as mid 2014.”
Dr Eoin Daly is a lecturer in the School of Law at University College Dublin.
He has written a piece on the Human Rights in Ireland blog, in the wake of the Anglo Tapes. His piece is in relation to recent calls for a referendum which would bestow greater powers on the Oireachtas to hold a banking inquiry.
He explains that an inquiry under current legislation would be bound by the Supreme Court’s 2001 Abbeylara judgement, which decided the Constitution gave no power to the Oireachtas to hold inquiries in which the findings could adversely affect private individuals.
“The prohibition of inquiries pertaining to the conduct of “private” individuals seems odd given the enormous power such individuals can wield in our society, as has now so painfully been established.”
“Given the broad consensus that our political system provides insufficient mechanisms for accountability and public scrutiny, the Abbeylara judgment now seems peculiarly inapt and misplaced. Therefore, in light of recent events there is a strong argument that a referendum should be held to reverse the judgment.
“This would create an explicit power for the Oireachtas to hold inquiries in accordance with legislation – including, crucially, the power to hold inquiries whose findings adversely affect the reputations of private individuals, albeit subject to certain protections.
“The 2011 referendum on Oireachtas inquiries would have had this effect had it passed. However, it was rejected partly because in addition to granting the Oireachtas an explicit inquiry jurisdiction – effectively reversing “Abbeylara” – it went further by implying that the inquiries could limit individuals’ ability to defend their rights of procedural fairness through access to judicial review proceedings.
“However there is no reason why a fresh, differently-worded amendment could address the narrower jurisdiction point yet while fully respecting the right of those adversely affected by inquiries to access the courts if necessary, as is currently the case in relation to all inquiry types. Although that may lead to further delays and costs, such is the inevitable price for protecting individuals’ constitutional rights.”
Dr Daly suggested the limits of a future inquiry could be removed by adding the following to Article 15 of the Constitution:
“The Houses of the Oireachtas may conduct public inquiries on matters of public interest in a manner regulated by law. Such inquiries may produce adverse findings concerning the conduct of individuals, whether in public employment or otherwise, subject to established rights of natural justice being respected.”
Two solicitors tweeting their concerns regarding the Seanad referendum.
This changes everything/nothing.
Is there a constitutional expert in the Upper House?
Article 27 allows a Seanad majority and 1/3 of the members of the Dail to jointly petition the President to refer a bill to referendum on the basis that the matter is of such national importance that the will of the people should be ascertained.
The prospect of a legal challenge to the result remains in light of last week’s Supreme Court ruling that the State had misused public money on its information campaign.
Constitutional law expert Paul Anthony McDermott said if it could be proved that most people did not make up their minds until they received the Government literature and were influenced by it, a credible challenge might be brought.
But, he said, overturning a referendum result would be “a nuclear remedy”.
Prominent No vote campaigner Kathy Sinnott said she hoped there would be a voter willing to take the challenge.
“I will help them in any way I can. This referendum is unsafe in legal terms because the result does not represent a fair choice on behalf of the people. Rules were broken by the Government and they spent our money on a one-sided and misinformed campaign to ensure a Yes vote,” she said.
THE RTÉ steering group of senior executives is to meet tomorrow to discuss coverage of the forthcoming referendum on children’s rights, which takes place on November 10th.
The normal approach in referendums is to give equal representation to both sides. However, the low profile of the No side has raised issues as to whether this approach is appropriate on this occasion.
Informed sources said the forthcoming referendum was “fairly unique” and that it was difficult to remember any other poll where there was “virtual unanimity” on one side of the question among elected representatives and lobby groups. The difficulty in allocating coverage arose because “the No side is just so small and so much on the margins of society”.
A SENIOR Minister has called for a rerun of the referendum on parliamentary inquiries to ensure there is a proper investigation into the banking collapse.
Minister for Energy and Communications Pat Rabbitte said yesterday that he would like to see the issue put before the people again in a calm and considered manner.
“I am in favour of the Government seeking to run again a referendum that would give a parliamentary committee the proper investigative powers to get to the bottom of what happened in the banks.
He added that Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, chairman of the PAC, was probably the wrong person to head an inquiry into the banking collapse. The Minister said the public would have concerns about a former Fianna Fáil minister being in charge of the inquiry.
The public endorsement of the EU fiscal compact “removes a potential source of considerable uncertainty about Ireland’s future funding” as the vote has removed the immediate concern about where Ireland could find a second bailout, Fitch said.
…Fitch said, however, that the vote had not increased the chances of Ireland’s credit rating being upgraded.
So, how about the bank debt?
Germany has cast doubt on any deal on bank debt following the fiscal treaty referendum outcome, saying it would be a “negative signal” to reopen Ireland’s bank rescue arrangements.