Seanad debates

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

An Bille um an Tríú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Cúirt Achomhairc) 2013: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Thirty-third Amendment of the Constitution (Court of Appeal) Bill 2013: Committee and Remaining Stages


1:15 pm

Photo of Averil PowerAveril Power (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I commend the Minister for bringing forward this Bill. It is very important legislation. The Supreme Court is completely overburdened at the moment, with 121 judgments considered last year, which is twice the number that went through the US Supreme Court. The Minister strongly made the point in his speech that justice delayed is justice denied. As things stand, people are waiting four years to get a case. This Bill will make a real difference in ensuring that people's rights can actually be vindicated by the courts in a timely fashion. An article in The Irish Times pointed out that it has gone from four months to four years. That has had a very negative impact on many people, so I welcome the passing of this Bill.

I welcome the provision in respect of the one judgment rule. This will make a big difference. Things change over time and from reading judgments in the past, it is often the minority judgments that are of greater interest and which in time, as societal attitudes change, become the majority view. I welcome the fact that for cases referred in this manner, we will benefit from that same diversity of opinion and legal approaches, rather than being forced to have a compromise approach where many views have to be dumbed down.

I welcome this Bill and I would like to assure the Minister that our party will do everything we can to ensure that it is passed following a referendum. As he pointed out, a referendum should not be taken for granted. I have no doubt he learned that lesson last year. I hope that the people will rebuff the Government's efforts in the Senate referendum, but we understand the importance of this Bill in giving people recourse to the courts. If they have to wait for years, then there is often no point and people already have been affected in a negative way by the time they get a chance to have their day in court. We will do everything we can to ensure that it is passed by the people as well.


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