Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions

Decisions on Public Petitions Received

4:00 pm

Photo of Pádraig Mac LochlainnPádraig Mac Lochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

Is that agreed? Agreed.

We will move on to petition No. P00015/15 which relates to cearta vótála - voting rights - and is in the name of Mr. Norman Wilson. The petitioner who is an Irish citizen residing in Australia is requesting that citizens of Ireland who live abroad have voting rights in Oireachtas and European Parliament elections. In its fifth report which was published in November 2013 the Constitutional Convention recommended that Irish citizens living outside the State be allowed to vote in presidential elections. However, this recommendation did not include general elections, European elections, local elections or referendums. The Government is required to report to the House on all recommendations made by the Constitutional Convention, it but has yet to do so in this instance. On 23 October the Dáil debated a report entitled, Voting Rights for Irish Citizens Abroad, which had been published by the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs in November 2014. The committee has discussed this matter and deliberated on it. We have agreed to forward a copy of the response received from the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to the petitioner, with a copy of the transcript of the Dáil debate on 23 October. When matters before this committee as petitions have been substantially dealt with by the Oireachtas, there is a precedent that we do not duplicate that work. As this matter has been dealt with, it is proposed to close the petition. Is that agreed? Agreed.

We will move on to petition No. P00022/15 which seeks a referendum on whether the Republic of Ireland should rejoin the United Kingdom. It has been submitted by Mr. Michael O'Neill on behalf of Mr. Orin Mhando. The petitioner is calling on the joint committee to recommend to the Government the holding of a referendum to agree to the Republic of Ireland rejoining the United Kingdom in order to give Unionists living in the Republic of Ireland a voice and the opportunity to gain seats in Seanad Éireann. The petitioner did not take his suggestion to any Department or public representative in advance of submitting the petition which could be deemed to be of a questionable nature as it was submitted in the name of one person on behalf of another. This is highly unusual and would normally happen only in circumstances where there are multiple petitioners or where an individual is unable to submit the petition personally. We asked the principal petitioner to prove that he had the permission of Mr. Michael O’Neill to submit a petition in his name. In his response by e-mail he forwarded a link to a Twitter account claiming that this was proof of permission to use the name. In addition, he did not tick the box to indicate that he would appear before the committee if it asked him to do so. The committee has looked at the petition and deemed it to be inadmissible under Standing Order 165(2) which relates to admissible petitions. The Standing Order states that, where a petition deals with "local or regional matters" or "matters which are more appropriate to a regulatory public body or a body established for the purpose of redress", the committee shall "establish that all available avenues of appeal or redress have been utilised by the petitioner prior to the Committee considering the matter". The petition is inadmissible on these grounds. It is also an unusually presented petition. Is it agreed that it is inadmissible? Agreed.

The final petition is petition No. P00023/15 which is entitled "unlawful discrimination and violation of European law" and has been submitted by Mr. Luis Manuel Muegues Acosta. The petitioner is a Colombian national and his wife is Spanish. He states that when he arrived at Cork Airport on 19 July, an official stamped his passport with a work restriction notice and entered him into the immigration system.

If the petitioner is correct in the information he provided within his petition then under EU Directive 2004/38/EC - on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of member states - he should have been processed on the basis of his wife being a European citizen and allowed the same access and rights to work as her.

As a rule this joint committee does not get involved in individual cases, however, it was decided to seek an explanation from the stakeholders involved in this case to establish if there is a systemic problem when processing European nationals and their spouses when entering Ireland through passport control.

The petitioner has made contact with the secretariat and he was advised that as he had not allowed sufficient time to resolve his issue in advance of submitting the petition and also as this was an individual case, the joint committee could decide that his petition is inadmissible. We have decided, following deliberation, that it is an individual case. Unfortunately, we have to deem it inadmissible to be consistent. However, an effort by our secretariat has been made, in good faith, to establish some of the issues that arise from the petition. We understand that the stakeholders are currently working with the petitioner to resolve and investigate the issue. On that basis, we are going to close the petition and we wish the petitioner well. We have tried to assist as best we can within the very tight remit that we have. I take it that is agreed? Agreed.


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