‘We Don’t Know What We Are Supposed To Be Amending’

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Independent TD for Kildare North Catherine Murphy

On May 26, the Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht: Select Sub-Committee on the Environment, Community and Local Government met to discuss the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014.

During the meeting, junior environment minister Ann Phelan told the committee:

“I want to point out to the committee that while the Government is not presenting any amendments to the Bill at this stage in the process, it intends to propose a number of amendments on Report Stage in the Dáil. This will require a motion to be tabled to amend the Long Title and scope of the Bill. These amendments will cover a range of issues, including further amendments to waste legislation and provisions relating to water services legislation. While I am not in a position to go into more detail about the amendments at this stage, they will be published in good time ahead of Report Stage so that Deputies will have time to consider them in advance of the debate on the floor of the House.”

In response, Independent TD Catherine Murphy told the meeting:

“I have to tell the Minister of State that I do not like stuff coming to us on Report Stage. I know it can happen when things are worked on late in the day. It is nice to see the totality of what we are doing on Second Stage. The Minister of State has said that a motion will come before us. What is the nature of that motion? Will it be debated in the Dáil? If so, will that debate precede the Report Stage debate?”

“I am aware that a certain system applies if a quite substantial change is being made to legislation. I remember that a legal services Bill introduced by a former Minister, Michael McDowell, had increased in size by two thirds by the time it got to Report Stage. The Minister of State might tell us about the nature of the changes she is proposing in this regard, with specific reference to the nature of the motion that will come before the Dáil.”

Ms Phelan went on to insist that the deputies would “have plenty of time” to look at the amendments…twice.

Further to this, Ms Murphy said this morning:

“The deadline for amendments to be submitted is 11am this morning and a debate on these issues will happen in the Dáil next week – with late sittings likely. We have now had it confirmed that opposition will not get sight of the amendments that Government are submitting before the deadline passes. In effect, this ensures that opposition are denied the chance to table their own amendments to the Government proposals because we don’t know what they are. The deadline for submitting our amendments will have passed yet we don’t know what we are supposed to be amending. In what way is that proper democratic functioning of Parliament?”

Anyone?

Thanks Catherine Murphy

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44 thoughts on “‘We Don’t Know What We Are Supposed To Be Amending’

      1. Sancho

        That’s a little misleading. What actually happens is that RTE, in collaboration with the Gov of the day, simply decide that it’s better the public doesn’t worry its little head about certain Gov actions (like this- or guillotines or the Taoiseach’s residence in the Phoenix Park). You’re not suggesting the the Irish media, in particular RTE, would ever just do what they are told by the Gov of the day? Silly. Next you’ll tell us that theyre hiding UFOs from us.

  1. rotide

    She needs to get this sorted so that she can get back to circumventing the courts and labelling a named individual as guilty with no actual evidence.

    1. James

      Rotide, would you give an explanation and sources please? At the moment it feels like you’re just rolling your eyes rather than informing and changing the minds of those (including myself) who might disagree with you.

      My issue with your comment is that mentioning how you believe a politician behaves is a tangent to the article and derails the conversation. No debate is really ever had and nobody wins (unless that’s the intention, which is fairly immoral). So, putting aside tangents, I fail to see how calling out improper use of democratic and fair structures in our government is something worth submitting a complaint about the general behaviour of the objector rather than celebrating a call for better structure that effects all issues in government?

      Forgive me for being rather suspicious of anyone who doesn’t celebrate someone calling for rules to be kept in place and fair. I haven’t made any comment on my overall opinion of any of the politicians behaviour or beliefs as it will derail this discussion and just obfuscates any progress.

    2. Fergus the magic postman

      That’s pathetic Rotide. Not at all surprising from you, but pathetic.
      Must try harder.

    3. rotide

      Jaysus lads, You fall all over yourselves to live under jonotti’s bridge and take issue with this?

      Funny stuff.

  2. Just sayin'

    Sorry to disappoint conspiracy theorists but this happens all the time – people drafting laws make mistakes, leave provisions out and try to rectify them before the Bill is passed or, if that’s too late, stick it in another Bill.

    It must be very disappointing for some people that the truth is so banal. This Bill simply ensures that we will have the highest possible water standards as demanded by the lizard people. That’s all.

        1. Walter-Ego

          Let’s wait and see what these amendments are. And we’ll see if they are “mistakes”.

    1. James

      I think you may be missing the issue of many that, irrelevant to whether this may have been delayed on purpose, the people expect better from government. In the case of many government matters, it’s not good enough to say that it wasn’t done in time. Perhaps for a shed you’re building in your back garden but not this and other issues.

      1. Just sayin'

        The only difference here between the public and private sectors is that a lot of government mistakes are made (and rightly so) very public. The private sector screws up all the time in private, making sure no one ever finds out. Imagine if FOI was extended to the private sector?!

    2. f

      @just sayin’ – It’s not that people don’t make mistakes; they do, and that’s fine. But there are three weeks of the Dáil term left, and the Government is under no obligation to hold the debate on the Bill next week – if there have been substantial changes, they should shuffle the timetable around to delay the debate to make time for Opposition TDs to see the amendments that the Government has made, and to allow time for debate on them. They do it all the time – they cleared the Dáil schedule overnight (literally) to make time to ram through the Aer Lingus sale legislation, pushing a rake of scheduled legislative debates back by a week. Out of nowhere, Opposition TDs were told late the night before that the Aer Lingus debate was scheduled, and by the time they were standing up the the chamber debating the deal, the Government hadn’t made available to them any of the details of it, something Gerry Adams pointed out at the time. So they were debating a deal the details of which none of them had seen. That kinda makes a mockery of the whole purpose of the Dáil, which, hard and all as it is to believe, is supposed to be a forum for talking about legislation, and making changes to it in the best interests of the public, not the ruling party or parties.

      So no, it’s not a conspiracy, and it’s not a simple mess-up either – it’s a quite deliberate abuse of the democratic process, and this Government is a demon for it.

      1. Just sayin'

        I think every government we’ve had does this, and every opposition complains about it…until they get into government. There seems to be an awful lot of experts on here who know more about it than I do though.

        1. Fergus the magic postman

          You seem to be quite the whataboutery expert.

          The government were pressed on this, giving them plenty of time to publish well ahead of Report Stage so that amendments could be debated.
          They didn’t. It wasn’t a mistake.

        2. f

          ‘I think every government we’ve had does this’
          In no way, shape or form does that make it ok, and in no way, shape or form does that demand the conclusion that Catherine Murphy shouldn’t have called them out on it.

    3. Sancho

      It certainly does but this Gov (and prior govs) also has a track record of squeezing in substantive last minute amendments in order to avoid debate. Her point is good one- they should know what they are voting on- I dont think you can disagree with that. And frankly, if the changes to be proposed are not substantive (and just mistakes, typos etc as you suggest), then, based on the initial quote, it would appear they are already aware of them and hence shouldn’t need a week to make the few corrections.

      In short, you’re right last minute non-substantive changes may often be necessary and we shouldn’t get excited about them but your willingness to overlook the frequency with which the Gov avoids any debate on legislation by using tricks like this, is embarrassingly naive (at best).

  3. Murtles

    The Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 is the bill is it not that contain the provisions for paying for Water and Water services to local government through Motor Tax and VAT. This is the Bill that Anti-Water Charges people (myself included) have waved to show we already are paying for water. Of course they want to slam this and ham fist this through under the radar without the minimum of debate. Well done Catherine Murphy, if there were a couple of more TD’s like her, we may actually have a half decent government.

    1. Murtles

      Actually I’ll have to correct myself and go off and find the one I’m thinking of, it’s certainly not 2014 but possibly a previous version of it. Back in a minute……hopefully.

  4. pixel_pimp

    perhaps this is the “open & transparent govt.” Enda promised the nation as he swept into office, throbbing with seats and tumescent with power.. POWER, i tells ya.

    GE can not come soon enough to sweep these fools into the dustbin of history for having perpetrated the largest lie to a governed people.

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