Seanad debates

Thursday, 1 July 2010

10:30 am

Photo of Cecilia KeaveneyCecilia Keaveney (Fianna Fail)

I endorse the suggestion that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform should come before the House to discuss issues such as the report in today's newspapers regarding the Taxing Master's report on a particular incident involving the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. I understand the separation of powers between the political sphere and the Judiciary but there must be a chance for Members to discuss issues such as sentencing policy, the costs charged by the legal profession, the right of people to their good name, the number of times that some people are obliged to come before court without their hearing taking place, as well as issues in respect of the free legal aid system. There must be a place and time in which Members can express their point of view, rather than trying to impose their thoughts on the Judiciary. I understand that not many of the issues to which I have just referred have been reviewed by the Judiciary in the recent past and therefore, it is valid for Members to air their concerns here. Anyone outside the House can do so at the pub. Members should have the capacity here to have a discussion in respect of real and important issues within the judicial process and within the generality, rather than the specifics, of particular cases.

I also ask that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform be invited to the House to discuss briefly a recent report to the effect that cigarette sales in shops have fallen by 40% since the internal advertisements within shops have been banned. The retail industry asserts that there has been a 40% drop in legal cigarette sales within a one-year period. However, the contention of the retail industry is that this has led to illegal sales being the real way in which people now buy cigarettes. Its contention is that many retailers are being offered illegal cigarettes to be sold under the counter. Will the Leader invite the Minister before the House to discuss his views on this report? While I would welcome a genuine 40% reduction in cigarette sales, if this fall is as a result of them being sold in another way, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform should be able to explain to Members the measures he proposes to take to counteract the illegal cigarette trade, while acknowledging the great successes the Customs and Excise and Garda are having in finding many hauls that have been imported.


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