asked the Taoiseach if he will state in respect of each of the years 1938 to 1944, inclusive, the number of Bills submitted to the President for signature (a) in the Irish language, and (b) in the English language.
Ceisteanna.—Questions. Oral Answers. - Submission of Bills to President.
Subject to what I propose to say later about the Second Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1941, no Bill was introduced in Irish in either House of the Oireachtas in the years specified in the question. In the case of each Bill, therefore, the only authoritative text showing the intention of the Legislature was the English text. This was accordingly the text submitted to the President for signature in accordance with Article 25 of the Constitution, Section 4.3º of which states:
"Every Bill shall be signed by the President in the text in which it was passed or deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, and if a Bill is so passed or deemed to have been passed in both the official languages, the President shall sign the text of the Bill in each of these languages".
In order that a Bill in Irish may be presented for signature, it is thus an essential preliminary that it shall have been passed or shall be deemed to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas in the Irish text alone or in both the official languages. The Irish text must have been submitted to both Houses. This requires, amongst other things, that the Irish equivalents of a number of terms which have acquired a special legal significance should be authoritatively settled. Proposals for legislation in this regard have been under consideration for some time.
As the Deputy can ascertain by consuiting the published statutes, the number of Bills signed in the years 1938 to 1944, inclusive, is 221. Where the President signs a Bill in one only of the official languages, an official translation is issued in the other official language, but this translation, since it has not been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, and consequently has not been signed by the President, has not the force of law.
The Second Amendment of the Constitution Bill, 1941, was passed and signed in both the official languages. The Constitution itself was, in 1937, approved by Dáil Eireann and enacted by the people in both the Irish and English texts. The text of the Constitution, as amended, which was enrolled in the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court on the 25th March, 1942, was, in accordance with Article 25.5, prepared in both languages, and the signature covers both.