Dear Ceann Comhairle

at

Barrett

AV(Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, top, and the AV Room of Leinster House last year)

You may recall a post last week concerning the reported decision of the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges to stop allowing civil society groups from briefing legislators in the AV room in Leinster House.

The facility is used by civil society groups to brief Oireachtas members on proposed legislation or other issues.

Well.

Representatives of different groups have written a letter to Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, top, requesting clarification about the decision:

Dear Ceann Comhairle,

Reports have reached our organisations that the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges, which you chair, has considered proposals that could restrict access by civil society groups to the Oireachtas audio-visual (AV) room. We would welcome your comments on these reports.

Over the years, a great many civil society, community and voluntary groups, including our organisations, have made good use of the AV room to brief TDs and Senators on matters of mutual interest. Moreover, the physical location of the room within the precincts of Leinster House permits your parliamentary colleagues to attend civil society briefings without neglecting their voting obligations.

The protection of civil society space is an internationally-recognised need.  Indeed, only ten days ago, Ireland’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva championed a new UN Human Rights Council Resolution on this subject that recognises “the crucial importance of the active involvement of civil society, at all levels, in processes of governance and in promoting good governance” (UN General Assembly document A/HRC/24/L.24).

The on-site briefing facility of the AV room at Leinster House is, both literally and figuratively, a civil society space that should be preserved and protected.

We hope that you can reassure us that, notwithstanding any discussions that may have taken place at the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges, you will not stand over any attempt to constrict the legitimate access of civil society groups to this important facility.

Yours sincerely,

Noeline Blackwell, Director General, FLAC,

Frances Byrne, CEO, OPEN

Orla O’Connor, Director, National Women’s Council of Ireland

Colm O’Gorman, Director, Amnesty International Ireland

Mark Kelly, Director, Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Rachel Mullen, Coordinator, Equality and Rights Alliance

Brian Sheehan, Director, Gay and Lesbian Equality Network

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance

Previously: Lack Of A Power Grab

Thanks Walter Jayawardene