Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: Under the Programme for National Recovery, the Government is committed to holding constitutional referenda on the following matters, on a priority basis: the abolition of Seanad Éireann; the granting of full investigative powers for Oireachtas committees; protecting the confidentiality of citizens’ communications with their public representatives; reducing the salaries of judges in restricted circumstances; and children’s rights. The preparation of the necessary Bills to enable referenda to be held on these proposals will be progressed by the relevant members of the Government as speedily as possible. The likely timing of referenda on the proposals will be considered when a clearer picture emerges and the Bills are ready for presentation to the Oireachtas.
In addition, the programme commits the Government to establishing a constitutional convention to consider comprehensive constitutional reform and to report within 12 months on the following matters: the review of the Dáil electoral system; reducing the term of office of the President from seven to five years; provision for same-sex marriage; broadening the reference in the Constitution to the role of women in the home to one which recognises the role of the parent in the home; removing reference to blasphemy from the Constitution; the possible reduction of the voting age; and other relevant constitutional amendments that may be recommended by the constitutional convention. Work has commenced on the preparation of detailed proposals for the establishment of the convention which will be considered by the Government when they are ready. They will address matters such as the structure, composition and terms of reference of the convention, including the basis on which it will be established. The House will have an opportunity to debate these when they are presented.
Deputy Gerry Adams: Go raibh maith agat. Has the Taoiseach made provision for citizens from the Six Counties to be involved in the constitutional convention? If not, I ask him to do so and to consult with parties in the North and with the First Minister.
I note the Taoiseach has again refused to have a referendum on the EU-IMF deal although that would strengthen his hand. The Taoiseach will give me the pat answer, namely, there was one such in the recent election but this is about strengthening Ireland’s hand, giving citizens a say and standing up to what we must in our own interests.
The Taoiseach: ——the corporation tax rate. I have not contemplated the addition of people from Northern Ireland in the terms of reference for the constitutional convention but will give consideration to that proposal.
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