Forum on Parliamentary Privilege invites submissions

The Forum on Parliamentary Privilege, which has been set up to examine the balance between freedom of debate for Members of the Dáil and the rights of individuals, is inviting public submissions on the matter.

The Forum will offer advice and recommendations to the Ceann Comhairle which will be brought to the Committee on Procedure of Dáil Éireann.

Members of the Forum are:

·    Professor David Farrell, Chair of Politics at University College Dublin and Head of the School of Politics and International Relations;
·    Mr. Conleth Bradley, Senior Counsel;
·    Mr. Conor Brady, former editor of the Irish Times;
·    Ms. Mary Hanafin, Former Government Chief Whip.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail said. “As Ceann Comhairle, I am acutely aware of the need to balance the Constitutional right to freedom of debate during Parliamentary proceedings, and the right of private individuals to their good name. I have asked the Forum to examine issues surrounding the Constitutional right to freedom of debate and it will offer advice and recommendations which will be brought to the Committee on Procedure of Dáil Éireann. As part of this process, the Forum is now inviting public submissions on Dáil Privilege.”

The Forum now wishes to hear from interested members of the public and is seeking written submissions addressing the following 6 questions as applicable in Dáil Éireann:-

1.    What constitutes a responsible use of freedom of debate in the Houses of the Oireachtas?

2.    How should freedom of debate in the Houses of the Oireachtas and the right of an individual to his or her good name be balanced against each other?

3.    How should freedom of debate in the Houses of the Oireachtas and the rights of the individual in court proceedings be balanced against each other?

4.    If a person’s good name has been impugned in the Houses of the Oireachtas, or his or her privacy has been breached, what procedure should be in place (within the Oireachtas itself) to deal with the abuse of privilege?

5.    What recourse should the citizen have where his or her good name or privacy rights have been interfered with by the abuse of privilege? What measures to protect the good name of the citizen should be considered?

6.    What sanctions should be imposed on a Member who has abused privilege?

Submissions should be sent by email to privilegeforum@oireachtas.ie (email attachments will not be accepted), or by post to the Journal Office, Houses of the Oireachtas Service, Leinster House, Dublin 2, D02 XR20.

The deadline for receipt of written submissions is 11 September 2017 at 6pm.

Written submissions received after this date will not be considered.

Rules on the receipt of submissions can be accessed at http://beta.oireachtas.ie/en/members/forum-parliamentary-privilege/, or obtained by post from the Journal Office, Houses of the Oireachtas Service, Leinster House, Dublin 2, D02 XR20.

Media Enquiries:

Ciaran Brennan,
Communications Unit,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2,
D02 XR20,
Ireland.

P: +353 1 6183903
M: +353 86 0496518
Email: Ciaran.brennan@oireachtas.ie