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

5:55 pm

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

I understand the point the Deputy is making and I listened very carefully to his arguments on Second Stage. First, after the lack of success of the constitutional amendment we proposed last year, everything we are now doing must be anchored in constitutional authority. Article 15.10 of the Constitution, from which section 9 inquiries derive their constitutional authority, only regulates the running of the Houses and only applies to Members of the Houses. The advice I have been given is that to try to conduct an inquiry into somebody who is not a Member of the House, even if that occurs through resignation, is ultra vires. We have no constitutional authority to do that, no more than we have of any other citizen who is not a Member of the Houses.

Second, during the conduct of an inquiry, the evidence will be heard in public and people will draw their own conclusions if somebody resigns before a report is issued. In fairness, we do not have a great tradition in this country of resigning from these Houses. In that context, it would be a fair achievement in itself if somebody, on foot of an inquiry of the House, felt compelled to resign. However, we do not have the constitutional authority to pursue them beyond membership of the Houses.


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