Constitution,

  • As the closing date for the receipt of submissions to the Working Group on Seanad Reform fast approaches I am asking on everyone who wisely voted in favour of retaining the Seanad to have their say. While the Working Group did place ads in National Newspapers before Christmas inviting submissions, the subject has been all but been ignored by the National Media. Two weeks ago I drafted an opinion piece for circulation to all the Newspapers but interest in Seanad Reform appears to have waned if not died away altogether. Even though last year’s Seanad Referendum did not allow for a vote on the reform of the Seanad it is widely known that many of those who voted in favour or perhaps indeed against the retention of the Seanad are in favour of radical reform.

  • Today (19 Feb 2019) at the Order of Business in the Seanad,  I  countered the very serious suggestion by the Leader of the House, Senator Jerry Buttimer,  Fine Gael that the ongoing debate  on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 is bringing the Seanad into disrepute. It has been implied that the almost 70  hours of debate has damaged the reputation of the Seanad and by implication its members.  I pointed out that since the commencement of Committee Stage debate, the Council of Europe's Group of States against Corruption had questioned whether the  Bill was in line with European Standards and if it actually secured judicial independence. In addition the European Commission in a report in March 2018 was definitive and explicit in its  view  that the Bill was not in line with European Standards. As recently as November 2018 the Irish Times Editorial stated “It is still not too late for the Government to scrap the ill-advised Judicial Appointments Bill being foisted on the country at the whim of Minister for Transport,  Shane Ross.”

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    Today history was made by the passing in the Seanad of the Thirty-fourth  Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Quality) Bill. I was proud to speak in favour of the Bill and for a YES vote in the May Referendum earlier this week in the Seanad. You can read the full text of my contribution by clicking here

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