Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform: Select Sub-Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform

Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Bill 2013: Committee Stage

6:55 pm

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour) | Oireachtas source

There are two points. Constitutionally, Members of the House are made accountable to the House and not to any external person. For example, for utterances in the House they cannot be hauled before the courts or held to account elsewhere. Therefore, they must be held to account here. The Bill establishes the rules and procedures to ensure this is done in a fair way. The full panoply of normal constitutional rights has been determined repeatedly by the courts in some of the cases we have mentioned, such as the case of former Senator Callely and others. There are many recitals where this robust set of privileges and rights accrue to everyone. I am confident that this will happen.

As Deputy Fleming has repeatedly said, it is much more likely that the person who will be inquired into will be a Member on the Government side rather than on the Opposition side. That will be the case if custom and practice teaches us anything.


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