Tuesday 26 September 2017

Remember citizens need protection, too

Parliament and its members must speak independently, but don't forget the public

There is no similar provision in Ireland for the Oireachtas or the courts to lift immunity, and, as last week's High Court ruling makes clear, only the Oireachtas can address such matters
There is no similar provision in Ireland for the Oireachtas or the courts to lift immunity, and, as last week's High Court ruling makes clear, only the Oireachtas can address such matters

Gay Mitchell

The High Court confirmed last week that Article 15.13 of the Constitution gives strong protection to members of both houses of the Oireachtas. They are not, in respect of any utterance in either house, amenable to any court or any authority other than the house. Only the Oireachtas can address abuses of such privilege.

Article 15.10 provides that: "Each house shall make its own rules and standing orders, with power to attach penalties for their infringement." This is mainly aimed at protecting the house and its members, "from… any person or persons interfering with, molesting or attempting to corrupt its members in the exercise of their duties".

MEPs have similar immunity from prosecution for opinions expressed in the course of their duties. This includes opinions expressed outside of Parliament, so long as they relate to the exercise of an MEP's duties. This immunity can be withdrawn by Parliament itself.

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