Header Item Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2014 [Seanad]: Committee and Remaining Stages (Continued)
 Header Item Fourth Report of the Constitutional Convention on the Dáil Electoral System: Statements

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 862 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe] How this would work in practical terms is that if somebody believed he or she would get three penalty points across the period of greatest concern for the Deputy, he or she would receive three penalty points due to the enactment of this Bill. One of the many things on which we will have clarity due to the enactment of the Bill is that the quantum of the penalty will not change. I ask the Deputy to consider this in the context of the point he has made. I understand the Deputy would be concerned if the level of penalty changed in any way.

In regard to the reference made to the European Court of Human Rights and the role of that body of law in Irish law, as somebody who has had responsibility for European affairs, I wish to make clear my understanding of the importance of that body of law to Irish law, culture and political life. Like the Deputy, I am proud of Ireland's legal and legislative history in that regard. While he would expect it to be the case, it is important I make it explicit to him, given his level of concern, that under no circumstances would I bring forward a Bill if I believed it would in any way contravene the Constitution or any other body of law that we subscribe to.

The Deputy asked for the rationale for the "saver" clause in this Bill. The sole reason this is included and that I ask the support of the House for it is to make explicit that the passage of this law does not in any way affect a matter that is currently before the courts. I say this as somebody who believes strongly in and accords significant value to our liberal values in how we govern ourselves. A cornerstone of all of that is absolute respect for the different spheres of power within public life. They do one thing - and it is the courts that much of this will be tested - and the Oireachtas does something different. The only reason this clause is being introduced is to make clear to the Oireachtas and beyond that the legislation being introduced fundamentally respects the right of an individual to take the law as it was then to the courts. I wish to make that clear in this Bill.

  Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

  Section 3 agreed to.

  Section 4 agreed to.

  Title agreed to.

  Bill reported without amendment and received for final consideration.

  Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I wish to record my appreciation for the manner in which this Bill has been dealt with by the Dáil. I acknowledge the approach taken by Deputies in regard to its scrutiny and dealing with this challenge. I assure them I do not take this interest or approach for granted and will in the new year continue to engage with the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications on matters they believe are important. I also acknowledge and thank my officials and officials in the Office of the Attorney General for the role they have played in the drafting of this legislation and for the approach taken by all involved.

  Question put and agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Catherine Byrne): Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne A message shall be sent to the Seanad acquainting it accordingly.

Fourth Report of the Constitutional Convention on the Dáil Electoral System: Statements

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Ann Phelan): Information on Ann Phelan Zoom on Ann Phelan I am pleased today to provide to the Oireachtas the Government's response to the recommendations of the fourth report of the Constitutional Convention. The report is about the Dáil electoral system, one of the topics listed for consideration by the convention in the Oireachtas resolutions of 2012 approving the calling of the convention.

The Government acknowledges the interest of the participants and contributors and their engagement on the subject of the Dáil electoral system over two weekend meetings of the convention. This was, to quote the convention chairman, "a technical and complex" issue for consideration by the convention members. The decision of the convention was decisively in favour of retaining the current proportional representation-single transferable vote, PR-STV, electoral system, and the Government accepts the recommendation that the system be retained.

While voting to retain the current system, the convention made a number of recommendations for its modification. The convention chairman called this a "strong demand for changes" as part of a more substantial agenda of political reform. In that context in particular, the Government restates its commitment to reform of the political and electoral system. This is evidenced in the strong delivery over the past three and a half years on commitments in the programme for Government and the commitment in the Statement of Government Priorities 2014-2016 to further reform.

In the fourth report, as well as dealing with the Dáil electoral system, the convention made recommendations for constitutional change in regard to permitting the appointment of non-Oireachtas members as Ministers and requiring Dáil Members to resign their seats on appointment to ministerial office. A recommendation was also made in regard to direct democracy or citizens' initiatives.

I will now set out the Government response to each of the recommendations made by the convention in its fourth report.

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