Wednesday, 16 May 2018
Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Bill 2017: Committee Stage
I have heard what the Minister has said. I want to be constructive. One gets things done when one is constructive. It is as simple as that. However, it is important to look back at the recommendations in the Mahon report, some of which the Minister is addressing in his justice portfolio and some of which are being addressed by the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, who is, to be fair, doing a great deal on the planning side. Hopefully, all of the Mahon recommendations will be implemented. One of the matters agreed under the programme for Government is to implement those recommendations in full. In fairness, great progress has been made by both Departments, which I acknowledge.
The Minister put a nail on something here today. He identified that he is constrained by the constitutionality around all of this and I accept that. I understand the separation of powers and fully acknowledge and respect all that goes with it. However, if it is necessary to have a constitutional referendum to root out the potential contamination of having such people coming into political life, it would be a good one. It will be a topical question and one in respect of which I will hone my skills in the coming weeks. I will advocate on this. If the advice is that there is a constitutional impediment in this regard, I will go on a crusade on this matter and will contribute to the debate in the public domain. I will orchestrate people to at least have a debate. Debate is always a healthy thing in democracy.
The Minister has told the House today that there are constitutional constraints and issues around this. I respect and acknowledge that fully. The Minister is a lawyer and has vast experience in this area. I acknowledge and respect that too. I thank the Members who have contributed to this debate, which has been a positive one. While there have been very few Senators here to engage in it, the debate has been very positive. Hopefully, we can meet and chat with the Minister's officials, with his support, before the next Stage to see what can be achieved. I acknowledge the Minister's contribution and am happy to withdraw the amendment based on the case he has made.