Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Micheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
As part of Question No. 9 I asked the Taoiseach about the intended timetable for the establishment and the work of the constitutional convention, whether one exists and, if so, whether it will be put before the House. As the party that brought in the 1937 Constitution, a republican constitution emulated by others throughout the globe, the challenge facing us is to enhance it. It is an organic constitution that grows, evolves and develops. The Supreme Court interprets it and creates new rights emanating from the basic document. The challenge facing us is to enhance the Constitution for the people. I put it to the Taoiseach that the Government has not been good at consulting the Opposition on such fundamental issues.
Since the bail referendum in 1996, there has been a tradition of Governments seeking the maximum amount of cross-party agreement possible across the board on fundamental issues before publishing proposals. A fundamental look at the Constitution is one such issue. There should have been a greater degree of bilateral consultation before now, like what happened in the case of the European referendums. Pro-European Union parties were always consulted. Governments tried everything to be non-partisan but that is not happening at the moment. I put it to the Taoiseach with the greatest of respect that Ministers must work far more constructively with Opposition parties.