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McDonald welcomes amendment to Oireachtas Inquiries Referendum wording

20 September, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD


Sinn Féin Public Expenditure and Reform Spokesperson Mary Lou McDonald TD has this evening welcomed Minister Howlin’s decision to amend the Oireachtas Inquiries Referendum wording to include due regard to the principles of fair procedures as proposed by Deputy McDonald last week.

Deputy McDonald said:

“Following the introduction of the legislation last week Sinn Féin warned that the Government’s referendum wording could be interpreted as an attempt by the Oireachtas to position itself as the custodian of natural justice in its own investigations.

“It is on that basis that Sinn Féin felt it important to submit an amendment to the legislation last week restating the right of those brought before an inquiry of natural justice.

“From the outset we stated our support of the Government’s proposed amendment to the constitution to give the Oireachtas powers of inquiry but only on the basis that procedural fairness and the rights of the people are in no way damaged. There should be no public question mark over the integrity and fairness of the inquiry process.

“The Government’s late submission of the amendment addressing its failure to restate the right to procedural fairness whilst welcome is of course worrying. Any eleventh hour amendment suggests that the Government has not taken adequate time to engage with others and consider the referendum wording.

“The lack of time allocated to progress the legislation is also of concern. Amending the Constitution is no small matter and the necessary time should have been taken to progress the legislation in a considered manner.

“Naturally I welcome Minister Howlin’s acknowledgment in the Dáil this evening that the Government’s change to the Referendum wording was a result of Sinn Féin’s amendment submitted last week.” ENDS

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