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Order of Business

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Senator Ivana Bacik

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I welcome the Government's announcement today that it will bring forward measures to address the gender pay gap. I very much welcome anything that will bring that forward. However, it is a pity, and I said this to the Minister for Justice and Equality, that the Government did not see fit to use the existing legislation, the Private Members' Bill, that we introduced in this House, which received cross-party support and has passed Second and Committee Stages. The Government could have implemented gender pay gap disclosure measures more speedily through proposing amendments to the Labour Party Bill, which we would have been quite happy to accept and debate in the normal way.
My concern is that introducing a new Government Bill will inevitably delay the introduction of these important measures, which we so badly need, to ensure that we can address the existing gender pay gaps. Would the Leader please pass the message to the Minister that we are concerned that the proposed Bill will bypass legislative provisions that have already been debated in the Seanad? If the Government is going to introduce its Bill it should at the very least be started in the Seanad, given that we have already had a good deal of considered debate on this issue.
I echo Senator Boyhan's concerns about the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017, which was to go to Committee Stage this week. I have tabled over 20 amendments for the Labour Party to make to that Bill but I understand it is not going ahead. Could the Leader let us know whether Committee Stage can proceed at this point, given that we have received reports that the Group of States against Corruption, GRECO, has such significant concerns about some key measures proposed in the Bill, in particular that the provisions around the new judicial appointments commission are not in line with European standards and that a more substantial participation is required. GRECO has urged the Government to reconsider the provisions in order to limit the potential risks of improper influence from the Executive and to ensure that any measures introduced are taken in co-operation with judicial authorities.
Given these concerns the Minister should publish the GRECO report and, furthermore, we should be given some indication of how the Government proposes to address these concerns in its amendments which we have not yet seen. We did debate the Bill on Second Stage last week without knowing its proposed final shape. It is most unsatisfactory and many of us expressed concerns about that last week. While we are mindful of the need for reform of judicial appointment measures, this Bill has been, in the words of the Attorney General, a "dog's dinner" to date and the reports about the GRECO report raise serious additional concerns about the new measures.