Seanad debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Mark DalyMark Daly (Fianna Fail)

Under the Constitution, the European courts are not under our jurisdiction. Therefore, what Members say about courts in other countries does not come under my remit. I am taking the precedent from rulings of the Chair in respect of policy. This is the important part. This House is about debate and about people discussing the issues of the day. Members may and should talk about issues in a general sense even on judicial policy and judicial rulings. However, when it becomes specifically identifiable, because of the separation of powers, the rulings from previous Chairs have been that those specific criticisms should not be entered into in the House.As the Senator outlined, his criticism related to the policy. He said he was concerned about lenient sentences for people, which is general comment that is quite legitimate, who had committed multiple crimes and seemed to get off with light sentences. That is a policy issue and it is quite legitimate to discuss it in the House. However, it is the rulings from previous Cathaoirligh. It is not in Standing Orders, so it is a precedent set by previous Cathaoirligh. If it relates to particular sentences that relate to particular judges, the rulings from previous Cathaoirligh have been that it would not be appropriate. However, I am open to Members changing the Standing Orders if they wish to put it to the committee on procedure, but it would bring us into a number of other more difficult areas. I am conscious of the separation of powers. The Senator was quite right to raise the issue but, obviously, he was raising a particular case and I am just going by the ruling of previous Cathaoirligh and rulings in the Dáil.


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