Sunday 11 December 2016

Vote No to inquiry powers while we can

Proposed constitutional amendment is utterly disproportionate and unjustifiable, argues Michael McDowell

Published 23/10/2011 | 05:00

I will be voting No in the referendum this week on the proposal to give each House of the Oireachtas new constitutional powers of inquiry because I believe that the proposal amounts to an ill-judged over-reaction to the decisions of the High Court and the Supreme Court in the Abbeylara case. They have received virtually no public scrutiny, and only a pathetically inadequate, toothless legislative consideration by the Dail and Seanad.

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While I do support, and have always supported, the right of the Oireachtas to restore its rights to those which were generally believed to exist prior to the Abbeylara judgements, the terms of the proposed constitutional amendment go far, far further than is necessary.

I have always believed that the High Court and the Supreme Court in the Abbeylara case failed to strike the proper balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of parliament under our Constitution and failed to give due weight to the constitutional separation of powers.

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