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Order of Business (Resumed)

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Order of Business (Resumed)

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Senator Victor Boyhan

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Order of Business (Resumed)
Snippet Contents:

I second the proposal of my colleague and friend, Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell, on the Order of Business.
I want to talk about GRECO. I commend and thank the Deputy Leader of the House who made a remarkable speech on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill. It was a brave and courageous speech and I would expect nothing less from her. That distinguishes leadership and politics. I acknowledge a whip structure is in place for political parties as opposed to Independents, but she had the courage of her convictions when she spoke and set out her stall. I acknowledge that because it is the mark of a politician and someone with leadership who is prepared to decipher the difference between blind loyalty to a political establishment and taking a reasonable and rational view of things. There is also the fact she is an experienced lawyer. This brings an awful lot of weight and I acknowledge it because it was a significant and important contribution.
It is very important that we have this GRECO report today. I played back the contributions of the Minister yesterday and it was absurd. We had the Minister tell us in the House that he had not even read it. Then he told one of the Senators not to worry, that he will allay all of our fears. Yesterday evening he told us he had a look at it yesterday. I am putting out an appeal here today. Today at Cabinet it was agreed to publish the report. I want the Minister to tell us what day he received it because he did not answer us the other night. I am putting him on notice now that if he does not do so this very day I will make a freedom of information request of the Department of Justice and Equality to ascertain who, be it the Secretary General or the Minister, received the GRECO report, when it was received and when it was brought to the Minister's attention. He failed to give us any clarity on this matter. I want to put on the record that this day I will put in a formal freedom of information request to the Department with regard to the Secretary General, the Minister and his staff. He has time today when he comes back in to clearly clarify the point.
We have an opportunity to defend the judicial independence of our State. We have an opportunity to ensure our Constitution is in no way eroded with regard to the independence of the Judiciary and the appointment of its members. I will make another appeal, as my friend, Senator Michael McDowell, said earlier, to have respect for the Bills Office. Do not push an enormous amount of work on the Bills Office for the next Stage when we complete this Stage. It also has a hard job to do. We must respect that and value it. I hope we will give it the time and space to let it do its work in terms of preparing for the next Stage of the Bill. I acknowledge the staff. I particularly acknowledge the Bills Office and the Seanad Office for the support they give us an ongoing basis, but particular the Bills Office regarding this matter. It is important the message goes out loud and clear from here. We generally as Senators are not prepared to make unreasonable demands of the Bills Office on this matter.