Monday 20 November 2017

Vote against 30th amendment for the sake of all citizens

The proposed change puts power in the hands of untrained, possibly partisan, individuals, writes Celia Larkin

You're minding your own business and the next thing you find, you're in front of a Dail Committee that's awash with new powers. You're not allowed to be represented by a lawyer. TDs, most of them with no legal training, have a go at you. Your good name goes down the tubes.

That's the possibility you have to prevent, this coming Thursday. One of the two proposals in the referendum on that day offers to give the Oireachtas substantial powers to conduct inquiries. That must not happen. No, no, a thousand times no.

As a law-abiding private citizen, you may think you'd never be before a Dail committee, and that such procedures only apply to an inner circle. But that's not what the amendment says. It talks of "any person, whether a public servant or not". In real terms, that's anybody the Government of the day wants to investigate. It could be a villain. It could be a non-villain (like, say Michael O'Leary) whose activities or statements cause the Government of the day some hassle. It could be any poor soul. No guidelines are laid down to ascertain what merits an inquiry. It's all at the discretion of the politicians/government of the day.

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