Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Micheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
I have a number of questions on the constitutional convention. Nine months ago the Taoiseach first promised the House that he would soon consult the Opposition on the terms of reference and composition of the convention. On 3 May 2011 he told me he was sick of the days where the Oireachtas was the last to know about things. On the same day he promised to consider the inclusion of Northern representatives. Will there be consultation on the terms of reference and the composition of the convention or will that consultation happen after all the decisions have been taken? Given all that has been said over the past nine months why has not the slightest effort been made to consult with the leaders of the Opposition parties or with Parliament? I want the Taoiseach to give an assurance that no effort will be made to prevent the convention from considering more radical reforms such as the makeup of Cabinet and Government control of the agenda of the Oireachtas itself, which is a fundamental issue that needs to be radically examined because the situation is getting worse in many respects.
How many referenda does the Taoiseach envisage emanating from the constitutional convention? Is it still his intention to hold the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad outside the remit of the convention? The Taoiseach has spoken about the limited opportunities per year to put referenda to the people. How does he reconcile that reality with the work of the convention and the reforms it might propose to implement?