Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Judges’ Remuneration) Bill 2011: Amendment from the Seanad
Thursday, 22 September 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The amendment approved by Seanad Éireann relates to the draft wording of Article 35.3. This is a technical amendment which removes a superfluous expression, namely, “into law”, from the first line of the section in order that it now reads “the enactment of this section”. The change preserves the norms generally adhered to in the text of the Constitution.
The shorter phrase is considered more appropriate to describe the coming into operation of the proposed amendment if the referendum is approved by the people. It takes account of the procedures for the making of amendments to the Constitution by way of the enactment of a Bill. If one likes, this is the legislative phase of a constitutional enactment provided for in Article 46. The procedures relating to the submission of a proposal to amend the Constitution by decision of the people in a subsequent referendum are provided for in Article 47.
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Ní chuirfidh mé i gcoinne an mholta atá os ár gcomhair ach an fhadhb atá agam ná cosúil le gach rud a dhéantar a scríobh nó a phlé sa Teach seo faoi dheifir, nuair atá an reachtaíocht déanta, bíonn dabht i gcónaí ann nach bhfuil sí foirfe. Leasú simplíé seo nach bhfuil conspóideach ach tá an fhadhb sin againn.
The amendment is not contentious and I am not arguing against it. However, I make the point that this is another example of rushed legislation and that this problem should have been picked up previously. Given the time available to produce this change, that is a pity and calls into question whether there are other problems with the wording. We did not have enough time to prepare fully because of the rushed nature of the legislation. I hope there are no problems because this will be useful legislation and the change should allow us to ensure what is intended will happen.
There is probably much in the Constitution that is superfluous. Perhaps when the constitutional forum is held, we might examine the Constitution and write it in plain English and Irish in order that it will not be seen as complicated, archaic, negative or convoluted, which would make no sense to many.
I will not press the point but express this concern. I hope there are no other problems with the existing wording, given that this is the last Stage of the Bill which will soon be put to the people who I hope will accept it.
Deputy Brendan Howlin: I thank the Deputy for his contribution. He is of the view that this legislation has been somewhat rushed, but it has been carefully considered for a very long period. This is a simple enough amendment to make. The deletion of the phrase is not viewed by the law officers as being damaging to the amendment; it is a better phrasing.
When I was crafting the legislation to establish my Department, there was a requirement to look at legislation from the 1920s. Stylistically, the drafting of legislation has changed remarkably; we would not say things in the same way today if we were redrafting some of the legal enactments from the 1920s and 1930s. However, the best advice is that this is a technical amendment which improves the text because it makes it tighter and removes a superfluous phrase. I thank the Deputy for his support.
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