Proposals to give additional powers to Oireachtas ‘fair’ and accountable – Alan Shatter
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has claimed that proposals to give additional powers to Oireachtas inquiries embody fairness and accountability.
With the Government under pressure to see the changes through in tomorrow's referendum, his Cabinet colleague Transport Minister Leo Varadkar also called for a 'Yes' vote in the interest of political reform.
Mr Shatter said the changes to investigations in the Oireachtas would bring Ireland in to line with other democratic parliaments around the world.
"Fairness and accountability are central to the Government's reform agenda," he said.
If the Oireachtas investigations referendum is passed, both houses will be able to conduct an inquiry into any matter of public importance.
A second referendum on judges' pay is also being held. If passed, it would allow for their salary to be cut proportionately if and when public servants' pay is reduced in the public interest. Judiciary members would also become subject to the public pensions levy.
Mr Shatter said the judicial pay reform would ensure judges' salaries would be treated the same as tens of thousands of other public servants.
"In urging a 'Yes' vote on both constitutional proposals, I am asking all voters to support the Government in implementing badly needed and promised reforms crucial to ensuring continuing respect for our judiciary and real parliamentary accountability to strengthen our democracy," he said.
Mr Shatter added that the referendums formed a central plank in the Fine Gael and Labour election campaigns at the start of 2011.
Mr Varadkar called for a 'Yes' vote and said he was confident it will pass while criticising the last Government for not pursuing political reform.
"The last Government had no interest in political reform. We've done loads," he said.
Mr Varadkar pointed out that the Government has already taken steps to address its political reform agenda, including reducing the number of councils and the size of the Dail.
Both the Taoiseach and Tanaiste again urged a 'Yes' vote on the referendums yesterday.