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Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

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An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Is the proposal that Nos. 14 and 15 be decided without debate agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Member's business agreed to? Agreed.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Today saw the publication of the Chief Justice's judgment on the competence of the Government in its handling of the children's referendum, particularly with regard to the booklet, website and advertisement published by the Government. The Chief Justice said that all three failed the test of being fair, equal and impartial. They failed to be neutral, failed to hold the scales equally between both sides and favoured one side over the other. The Chief Justice also drew a contrast between how the Government approached the material and how the Referendum Commission dealt with it, in terms of the neutral manner in which the commission pursued its work. The Constitution belongs to the people and no Government has the right to allocate to itself either funding or the capacity to take the decision away from the people and into its own hands.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett This is not Question Time.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I know that, but this is a serious issue-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I know that too. I appreciate that, Deputy.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----that goes to the very heart of our Constitution. It is the question of who decides how to change or amend the Constitution. It is a serious judgment, and I ask the Taoiseach, in line with commitments in the programme for Government, to provide special time, early in the new Dáil session, for a full debate on this judgment. I ask that the Minister concerned come before the House to answer questions on it and that the role of the Attorney General be fully clarified. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Fitzgerald, and the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, both blamed the Attorney General at the time. They said the Attorney General had scrutinised the material, but if one reads the judgment, it seems that a very amateur-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy, we cannot deal with this on the Order of Business.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----and incompetent approach was adopted by the Government, in which it broke every rule in the book in terms of the material it published.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett All of these matters can be discussed when the issue is debated in the House.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We have been fobbed off before. When the initial judgment came out we had no debate. In the Seanad they had a special notice question immediately on the publication of the first judgment. There has been no meaningful discussion in the aftermath of the referendum about what was a serious breach by the Government-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Thank you, Deputy Martin.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----regarding the holding of the referendum and the material it published.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I am conscious of the fact-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Taoiseach, the Deputy has made a request for time. That is all it is. It would be better if this was done through the Whips.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin There is nothing done through the Whips.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The normal procedure is that if a Deputy wants a debate, he or she asks for it at the Whips' meeting.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It does not happen. The Chief Whip-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is the normal procedure. However, the Taoiseach wishes to respond.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I should remind the House that there will be a court case about this matter in January.


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