Posted on October 24, 2011 5:35 PM   |   Permanent Link   

Dublin North East Labour Party TD and member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice Seán Kenny is calling on people to vote YES in the upcoming referendums on Oireachtas Inquiries and Judicial Pay.

"The two Referendums due to take place this Thursday contain two very important changes which I urge all people to support.

"Firstly, the Oireachtas Inquiries Referendum will allow Oireachtas Committees to hold inquiries which will help us break away from vested interests and examine important matters of public interest, such as the Irish banking system. Such inquiries will cost the Irish tax-payer significantly less than the tribunals of the past.
"Since the 2002 Supreme Court decision in the Abbeylara case, the Irish parliament has been forbidden from conducting inquiries into matters of public importance. Ireland is the only European county without these powers and this referendum seeks to change that.

"If passed, we will be able to put an end to the many tribunals that have cost this state millions and have taken years to investigate with very little to show in terms of results. With the passing of this referendum, investigations will cost far less, take less time to conduct and will be far more transparent.

"A prime example of this is the DIRT inquiry which took place before the Abbeylara judgement. The DIRT inquiry was carried out by the Public Accounts Committee and while it cost a little less than €3m, it yielded in excess of €450m in its findings.

"It is not the case that people will not be allowed vindicate their rights before the courts in this process. The procedures for Oireachtas Inquiries will be governed by law and will be subject to review by the courts. The amendment does introduce another test which the courts would have to consider - the public interest.
"The referendum on Judicial Pay, if passed, will give the State power to reduce the pay of judges proportionately if the pay of public servants is being reduced. Crucially, the independence of the judiciary is not compromised by the proposed amendment.

"We need more democratic accountability in our political and economic systems. A Yes vote to both Referendums on 27 October is a step in the right direction."