Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Enda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
As I said to Deputy Martin, I am happy to sit down and discuss the proposals I have with the leaders of the respective parties and to discuss what they have to offer, what they have to brief Government on and what they have to say. The remit in the programme for Government is clear about what the constitutional convention will be called on to examine. Let us suppose the constitutional convention were to examine a reduction in the period of the presidency from seven to five years and an associated recommendation were to come before Government and the Government decided that it was worthy of doing. One cannot change the Constitution without a referendum. In the event that proposals from the constitutional convention were acceptable to Government having been deliberated on by it and so on, a referendum could be required in a range of areas. I cannot say what the constitutional convention might decide in any of these cases. We must consider carefully how the structure of this will work.
Deputies will be aware of the work of the National Forum on Europe which has taken hearings throughout the country. In some cases the meetings were well-attended and packed and in other cases the meetings were rather small. It depends on how one services that structure. One must appoint a chairperson for the operation and provide it with adequate resources to do its job. I do not foresee it drafting an entirely new constitution in this context. We have had recommendations in the Oireachtas for this at various times during the past 30 years. There is a specific requirement in the programme for Government and we will see this materialises and get under way. I hope to brief Deputy Adams and Deputy Martin in the next two weeks.