Monday 23 October 2017

President seeks advice from Council of State

Front row (l-r): Senator Patrick Burke; Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett; Tánaiste Joan Burton; Taoiseach Enda Kenny, President Michael D Higgins; Chief Justice Susan Denham; President of the High Court Peter Kelly; Attorney General Maire Whelan; Professor Mary McAleese; back (l-r): ex-Taoiseach John Bruton; Sally Mulready; Michael Farrell; Judges Catherine McGuinness, Ronan C Keane, John Murray; Deirdre Heenan, ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Ruari McKiernan, Gerard Quinn, ex-Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Photo: Collins
Front row (l-r): Senator Patrick Burke; Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett; Tánaiste Joan Burton; Taoiseach Enda Kenny, President Michael D Higgins; Chief Justice Susan Denham; President of the High Court Peter Kelly; Attorney General Maire Whelan; Professor Mary McAleese; back (l-r): ex-Taoiseach John Bruton; Sally Mulready; Michael Farrell; Judges Catherine McGuinness, Ronan C Keane, John Murray; Deirdre Heenan, ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Ruari McKiernan, Gerard Quinn, ex-Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Photo: Collins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

President Michael D Higgins will decide today whether to sign legislation aimed at streamlining the application process for asylum-seekers into law or refer it to the Supreme Court.

The Council of State met for more than three hours at Áras an Uachtarain yesterday.

It was only the second time since taking office in 2011 that Mr Higgins has sought advice from the council. The other occasion concerned the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

A total of 19 of the council's 25 members attended yesterday's meeting.

Among those there were former taoisigh Brian Cowen, Bertie Ahern and John Bruton and former president Mary McAleese.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton and Attorney General Maire Whelan are also members of the council, as are Chief Justice Susan Denham and Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Former president Mary Robinson and former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave were absent.

The International Protection Bill was rushed through the Oireachtas before Christmas and was among a raft of legislation sent to the President before the Dáil recess.

Such was the level of correspondence that, for the first time, Mr Higgins had to work on Christmas Day.

The President asked the council to consider whether aspects of the International Protection Bill are "repugnant" to the Constitution.

The issue is understood to revolve around the Bill's attitude to family reunification provisions for asylum-seekers.

Mr Higgins will contact the council to give the members his decision before making it public.

The President is also due to consider the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill and the Legal Services Bill today.

Irish Independent

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