Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017: Report Stage (Resumed)

Debate resumed on amendment No. 6:
In page 10, to delete lines 20 to 28 and substitute the following:
“10. (1) The Commission shall consist of 11 members being—
(a) the Chief Justice,
(b) the President of the Court of Appeal,
(c) the President of the High Court,
(d) the President of the Circuit Court,
(e) the President of the District Court,
(f) a lay person nominated by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission,
(g) a lay person nominated by the Free Legal Advice Centres Limited,
(h) a lay person nominated by the Citizens Information Board,
(i) a lay person nominated by an tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas,
(j) a practising barrister nominated under section 13, and
(k) a practising solicitor nominated under section 13.
(2) The Commission shall elect its own chairperson.”.
(Deputy Jim O'Callaghan)

Deputy Jack Chambers was in possession. Is anybody else offering on this particular matter? I call Deputy Mick Wallace.

I am sorry. I was missing at the end of the previous night.

The Deputy is here now.

I thank the Chair for accepting my amendment. It is much appreciated in the interest of democracy.

Can we have the agreement in writing?

Deputy Clare Daly is going first.

I will save the day as we were called rapidly on this.

Is that the amendment?

It is indicative of the difficulty we are in; we are moving whatever amendments we have in this category. This is a seven minute slot because we have not spoken but there are multiple different and contradictory amendments. Some are better or worse, and we could rank some of them in a scenario of what we would like. We were somewhat thrown by the public announcement that Sinn Féin has done a deal with the Government. It will come in to save the day for the Government, but that is regrettable. One of the key points highlighted in this whole process was political interference in the appointment of the Judiciary. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, in particular, has made his name on this issue.

The biggest political interference is with regard to the role of the Attorney General. Opposition Deputies on the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality were unanimous that the Attorney General should not be on the judicial appointments body. The Minister for Justice, Deputy Charles Flanagan, has put him back on. That was after the interference of the Attorney General himself in that process when he criticised the committee for making a dog's dinner of things and all the rest of it.

In March, the European Commission expressed concern about the lack of judicial input to the appointments process as originally proposed by the Government. The response of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, at that time was to say that until the Commission understood the history of naked political appointment of judges in Ireland, it was unlikely to grasp the need for radical reform of the process. The Commission's concern was based on paragraph 47 of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities. The paragraph states:

where the constitutional or other legal provisions prescribe that the head of state, the government or the legislative power take decisions concerning the selection and career of judges, an independent and competent authority drawn in substantial part from the judiciary [...] should be authorised to make recommendations or express opinions which the relevant appointing authority follows in practice.

This means that the presence of the presidents of the District and Circuit courts is less desirable rather than fairly obligatory. The amendments that we tried to table, and the one that the Ceann Comhairle thankfully accepted from Deputy Mick Wallace, replaces them and puts them back where they rightfully should be. Let the Attorney General, who slagged off our committee, take note that it was the unanimous view of all of the members that this should happen. We actually made this Bill better on Committee Stage and the Government has now sought on this Stage to come back and undermine our work behind the curve by reimposing the Attorney General.

Paragraph 46 of Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)12 of the Committee of Ministers specifically states that "the authority taking decisions on the selection and career of judges should be independent of the executive and legislative powers". Despite this very clear input, the Government is undermining the independence of the courts from the Executive by re-imposing the Attorney General, who sits at Cabinet. Presumably, the Minister is aware of these decisions. It is very poor. and it goes against what the Irish Council of Civil Liberties, ICCL, and the Law Society said. It also goes against what has happened in other jurisdictions. It is a dog's dinner trying to put this back now; have a mess of different contradictory proposals.

We will support Deputy Jim O'Callaghan's proposal as being, by far, a greater improvement in respect of more serious reform in this area than what the Government has tabled. I refer to smaller, more manageable numbers - 11 versus the Government's ridiculous 17. How could there be a commission of 17 people? The appointment of the lay people by non-governmental organisation, NGO, nominees rather than the Public Appointments Service, PAS, is a very positive measure. We had that in some of our amendments on Committee Stage. The fact that the Attorney General is not on it is, of course, a positive as far as we are concerned. What we had sought to do in various different ways was to respect the wishes of the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality to keep the Attorney General off and put the presidents of the District and Circuit Courts back on. We also sought to put one extra person back on to have balance and a 50:50 split - this was ruled out of order - and for the commission to appoint its own chairperson.

That chairperson was to have a casting vote, which I thought would have been a better way of doing things. It seems that we are going through the motions now if a deal has been done, and the Government's mess, which goes against what we agreed at committee, has been accounted for behind closed doors.

I wish to make a point about sentencing guidelines and whatever has been agreed between the parties in return for a vote on this matter. There is an issue in terms of how much of a guideline on sentencing the Oireachtas can provide to the Judiciary without interfering with the separation of powers, but it is utterly regrettable that it is being introduced into this scenario. I also wish to put on record the contradiction between the unseemly haste at which this is going through - and it is only window dressing because the final decision rests with the Government anyway, ensuring that political interference remains intact - and the fact that the Judicial Council Bill, the product of 20 years of discussion and which could deliver real reform, has been languishing in the Seanad since November. There is no haste to bring that Bill before this House, even though it could ensure meaningful reform and make some real difference. This system falls far short of the type of radical reform the Minister was lauding previously.

The 17-member commission advocated by the Government is a joke. The Minister himself, at the Committee on Justice and Equality, said that an increase in the membership of the commission beyond 13 would make no sense. The Minister stated:

I am minded to give this matter further consideration to see how best we can achieve that balance between, on the one hand, the commission not having such a large number of members as to be problematic and, on the other hand, the need to ensure we can have the input and draw on the experience and expertise of the presidents of the courts. We can only do this by having their active engagement and involvement, and that would be through membership.

The Minister also said "I have listened to Deputy O'Callaghan in particular, as well as other members, but I am not minded to increase the number of members of the commission beyond the 13-member composition that the legislation now provides." Those are the words of the Minister. We considered a membership of 14 or 15 in order to incorporate the presidents of the Circuit Court and the District Court and the Minister is now considering having 17 members. Why is that the case? I believe there are two reasons. It is a joke, and the Minister knows it. The Minister wants to keep the Attorney General on board, and he wants to ensure a lay majority. The Minister is introducing poor legislation to keep the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, on board so that the Government can continue on its merry way. That is the truth, and the Minister knows it. I know the Minister does not agree with having 17 members of the commission. Can anyone imagine the situation? There would be 17 people around the table. We wondered if 13 members would be too many and we are now considering 17. The Minister should give us a break. He should be honest, tell us the truth and admit that he does not actually agree with it. I know he does not. The Taoiseach himself recently spoke about it as it applied to the issue of sentencing guidelines.

The deal with Sinn Féin is disgusting. I have been here since 2011 and have said very few negative words about Sinn Féin. However, it is now going down a populist route. It was the case on the Data Protection Bill, where it helped change the age of digital consent from 13 to 16, and it is acting in the same way again. It is trying to steal the clothes of Fianna Fáil, and it is wasting its time. It was better off on the route it was taking previously and is now a joke, given the two positions it has taken recently. I am really angry that it has done this deal. I feel like saying more than I should.

The Taoiseach, when talking about sentencing guidelines, said:

In addition, the Judicial Council Bill 2017 is before the Seanad. That Bill potentially provides for the making of sentencing guidelines, which is something the Government is very keen to explore with Opposition parties.

We do, however, have to make a distinction between guidelines and mandatory sentencing. We have separation of powers in this country. Judges sit through entire cases for days and days, something we do not do. They hear all of the evidence and all sides of the story, including any mitigating factors. I am not referring to any particular case but am speaking generally. It is not right for us, having not sat through these cases and heard the evidence, to second-guess the judgments made, because ultimately it is the judges who sit through those cases for days and days, hear all of the evidence, all of the arguments and all of the circumstances and ultimately come up with a sentence on that basis. I do not believe that it is correct that people who do not do what judges do should second-guess their decisions.

The Government has made a deal with Sinn Féin for guidelines, not mandatory sentencing. Fair play to the Government; Sinn Féin was easily bought.

We are caught in a difficult place. The present legislation is imperfect and there are problems with all of the amendments tabled for different reasons. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to see where this is going. We are going to end up with poor legislation, and it will be on our heads.

Shame on those who have done deals in the background. The responsibilities of Members of these Houses is to deliver good legislation. We put a lot of work into this, as did several others. We want to legislate well. The media do not listen to the legislation that comes from this House, and we could not care less about it, but we do care about how legislation is delivered. We want to have our names attached to things that have been done well. This is not being done well. This is horse trading of the worst type, and nothing short of it. The Minister, Deputy Ross, campaigned on this issue to remove politics from the appointment of judges in Ireland. We are not working towards that now. We are moving away from that aim. We are taking the legal influence out of it and increasing the political influence. We are decreasing the legal influence, provided by those who know what is going on, and increasing the political influence. That is what this Bill will do. It is a sham. I do not believe for a second that the Minister believes we are going in the right direction on this. He should tell the truth and admit it.

I cannot support amendment No. 6 from Deputy O'Callaghan because it will pave the way for a non-lay majority. I have made that clear to Deputy O'Callaghan previously. I also believe it is too prescriptive in terms of the organisations that can be representative. The need for those lay people to be more representative was discussed at length at Committee Stage. We should try to be more imaginative and go beyond the usual processes of appointment through the Public Appointments Service.

It is for this reason that I have put forward a number of amendments. Some of them are in this group, although the key one is in the next group.

The key amendment to which I refer proposes to split the lay majority between the general lay appointments, the three people who would be appointed under amendment No. 15, and the three who would be appointed under the diversity and social inclusion provisions. It is probably a miscalculation to go for a split of three and three so this is a matter which I may revisit. However, the principle behind it is that the diversity and social inclusion appointments in the judicial council could develop a register of relevant organisations beyond the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, IHREC, the Free Legal Aid Centres, FLAC, and the Citizens Information Board. All of those are valuable and would have a role to play, as well as an interest in ensuring that the judicial appointments council is properly representative with a view to ensuring that the judiciary is properly representative. However, there are many other organisations that would be relevant in that regard as well. The proposal would be that a register of organisations would be developed and that those organisations would be invited to bring forward nominations through the judicial appointments commission. The Public Appointments Service could agree or otherwise and take on board a number of those nominations.

Unfortunately, my amendment has been ruled out of order but I am minded to support amendment No. 11 in the name of Deputy Clare Daly. That would be my preference. I do not support the Attorney General's presence on the judicial appointments commission. As has been discussed on a number of occasions, I think that constitutes a second bite at the cherry. However, my vote will be to ensure that the lay majority is preserved. I do not for one moment accept the point about populism. There is an obligation on all Members of this House to try to deliver for their constituents. I am of the view that everyone here is very committed to doing so.

Sentencing guidelines have been discussed at length in this House over many years. They have been pursued by several organisations, including the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, Rape Crisis Network Ireland and the Irish Penal Reform Trust. Fianna Fáil and many others, including the Labour Party, have expressed support for the notion of such guidelines. Whatever comments may have been made, it is clear that sentencing guidelines - or scope for them - were not included in the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017. We have done what we can to pursue that aim and deliver on it. I think that is right. It is in the public interest and, I think, it is something that members of the public, particularly the victims of crime, would be keen to see. Deputy Clare Daly is quite right; there are issues around to the separation of powers. Any proposals we have brought forward in the past have been consistent with that. They have always ensured that the final authority lies with the judge. Ultimately, the latter has jurisdiction. We are mindful of the separation of powers. Any proposals that we have brought have taken account of it, as will any proposals we will support in the future.

The point that I made previously about this Bill and the other legislation is that I view them as a package. It is very rare for reforms relating to the Judiciary to go through these Houses. The matter of judicial appointments is one such area of reform. We are dealing here with a proposal to ensure that the process for appointing judges is transparent, independent and removed from political influence. The case concerning the manner in which these appointments have been carried out has been made in a comprehensive manner. That is important. However, it is also important that we address how the Judiciary conduct themselves when in office. There has been significant criticism of the lack of consistency in sentencing and, indeed, of the lack of research and information on it that is available to organisations. That is something that has to be rectified.

As already stated, it has always been my view that I will deal with each amendment as it comes and that our discussion relates to supporting this Bill on Fifth Stage. While I believe that there is a great deal of work to do - not only here but also in the Seanad - to try to ensure that the Bill is up to scratch, as matters stand, I am of the view that it is worthy of support and that it can improve the process by means of which judges are appointed.

I, too, am glad to be able to contribute to the debate. I apologise that I could not get here last Thursday to speak. I lost the keys of my car. If I got locked out of the building, perhaps the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, would have been pleased. I noted, looking in every now and then, that he accompanied the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, and minded him, as it were. I am not doubting the Minister for Justice and Equality's capabilities in dealing with any legislation or in handling anyone, but I did notice that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport kept a very close eye on him.

Tá sé as láthair anocht. Maybe he is off acting as something that starts with the letter B, I will not say what, someplace else. It is my first time commenting on this Bill. However, I would like to ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport - I hope the Ceann Comhairle will allow me to do so - why he chose to have a very menacing outburst against me in the canteen last week in the company of many others. I can understand that. I am used to that. Maybe he was hot under the collar, pardon the pun. However, my 19 year old daughter was present and I thought it was very unsavoury. I would ask him to reflect on that, and maybe to issue an apology to that young woman. It was not nice language for a young lady to hear, nor was it nice language to use in the canteen, with the public, staff, ushers, Members and God knows who else present.

I do not know the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport's whereabouts. He is like something from the Flight of the Earls now. He is going from one Bill to the next. He is like a fellow who was dancing on a stage at a crossroads one night. This man was two-timing. I knew him well in later years. On the same night, he was with Kitty and Kathy. He was dating both of them, but either turned up at the stage. He said that he had neither Kitty nor Kathy that night.

We are dealing with the Report Stage of the Bill, amendment No. 6 and all the other amendments in this grouping. The Deputy needs to focus his attention on the subject matter of the amendments.

I try to focus on it, but when there are outbursts from different parts of the building, it is important to note the fact on the record. There is no room for that in a parliamentary democracy. I think the Ceann Comhairle would be the first to agree with me.

This Bill, as I have said, is the brainchild of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. It was very dear to him before he entered the Government, and during the talks he was pretty strong on it. In fact, I supported him on a lot of the ideas and intentions. However, it seems to be a bit of a dog's dinner now. We have a board which is going to consist of 14, 15, 16 or 17 people.

It is 17 people.

When it was a council of 11 he was very unhappy with its make up, and we all were. I was certainly unhappy, and I said as much at the time. I said that we have other people watching us. Only last year, a report from the Group of States against Corruption, GRECO, a Council of Europe body, put further pressure on the Government to pass the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017. I acknowledged that. At the same time, GRECO found Ireland to be "globally unsatisfactory", particularly in the area of judicial appointments and independence. Those are not my words. They are from GRECO, a European body. I do not know what kind of deal the Minister has cobbled together with Deputy Ross and other parties. The Irish Times reported:

GRECO said Ireland was also not in compliance with its recommendation that a structure be established to deal with judges’ pay in a way that would safeguard the “integrity and professional quality” of the bench.

We must do that. Judges have a difficult job. Since the foundation of the State, and in more recent times with the Special Criminal Court during the Troubles, they have had a hard job in the main. However we must also have refresher courses. I have been saying it for years. If someone is appointed a judge today, they are a judge for life. I do not think any judge has ever been impeached or left. Perhaps one. It does not happen. GRECO rejected the Government's response that the new Public Service Pay Commission would deal with these issues.

It stated it could not see how the commission would protect judges' independence when it came to setting their pay and pension conditions. Quite frankly, I would find it hard to see how it would, as would most people. It also noted there is no formal code of conduct for Irish judges. The group noted that work to establish a code of conduct was started in 2011 by the then Government, of which the Minister was a supporter, but it is yet to be completed. GRECO also stated, moreover, that in the current situation, including the fact the judicial council has not yet been established, no accountability mechanism is in place.

As was reported in The Irish Times last year, another European report found that almost one third of Irish judges believed judges were appointed by the Government for reasons other than merit, and this is very concerning. The Minister, Deputy Ross, claimed all of the time that he wanted to depoliticise these appointments, but I do not know what he has done now. It has become a right mess. There is a row about who will be on it and who will not be on it. He was so anti-quango all his life, when I read about him, met him and for the past ten years since I came in here. A quango was an abhorrent being to him. He wrote about it every time he got a chance and spoke about it here loudly when he was in opposition, up where Teachta Clare Daly is ina suí anocht, proclaiming that quangoland was a waste and scandalous. He spoke about political interference and jobs for the boys, but now he wants to have a quango that is super fat. If it was an animal going to any factory it would be degraded for having too much fat. It would definitely be culled and gone out as meat for export but not for human consumption.

He seems to have lost the plot since he got into government. I do not know what the Government is doing to him inside in the Cabinet room, but I would like to be a fly on the wall. I think they have him terrorised because he is like a rabbit in the headlights and he does not know whether he is coming or going. He is head before face and face before someplace else. I do not know what we are going to do with him. This legislation can expect a difficult passage because it is all over the place. A lot of his basic credentials when elected here were that he wanted to rid the country of quangos, and now he wants to set up one of the fattest ones. A mixed bag of licorice allsorts would not be a patch on this. I certainly cannot support it and I have a lot more points to make on it later.

I appreciate very much being given an opportunity to speak on this very important subject with regard to amendment No. 6. There seems to be a share of last-minute manoeuvres being done with regard to this very important Bill. Perhaps it is a sign of the new coalition that might be coming down the road, because there are overtures between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael and there seems to be very warm interaction going on at present in public and behind closed doors. The support that has been reached in recent hours and days with regard to the Bill seems to reflect very much on the romance going on at present between Sinn Féin and Fine Gael. I suppose like any courtship it will take its natural evolvement and it will go from one-----

It is blossoming like the rhododendrons in Kerry.

Yes, that is fair enough-----

Not quite, I would say.

-----but rhododendrons are not very nice when they are blossoming.

That is my point.

The Deputy knows that we treat them as a very invasive species.

I will come back to the romance because that is the serious point of this, because it will have a big effect-----

Will the Deputy ever come back to the amendment?

I will, but the romance is part of what is happening to the body of the Bill because there has been a major change to it. I am sure Deputy O'Callaghan, with his expertise, will agree with me that this set out to streamline a board, and the proposed board went down in numbers, but now I believe it is back up again to 17. It is up and down like a yo-yo or a zig-zag. That could not happen without political agreement. If my understanding is right, it was not with the political agreement or say-so of the real government, that is Fianna Fáil. This has happened outside of Fianna Fáil's agreement and it is with Sinn Féin and the Government, in preparation for their continued courtship in the future Government they are hoping, perhaps, to try to produce out of the courtship that is going on at present. It certainly took a lot of people by surprise.

Deputy Wallace should be commended on what he said earlier. The simple fact is that it seems to be very unsatisfactory. It seems to be in a shambles at present. I will be very interested to hear what the Minister has to say about it. Any time a Bill is brought before the House it is supposed to make a situation better but if it transpires that what someone is actually doing is using the political system to make matters worse, how are people supposed to have confidence in the political system at that stage? There was a type of affront on the Judiciary and there was talk of a major overhaul of the way the whole Judiciary was appointed and how it would be conducted in the years ahead but now it seems to be falling into a shambles. I would like further clarification. I would like to hear what can we do about it at this Stage.

I appreciate the opportunity we might have during the rest of the evening to speak on the various amendments and where we can go from here. Certainly people involved in the legal profession would be very interested in what is going on here because it is surprising, to say the least. We often heard of gerrymandering in the past, but this seems to be political gerrymandering of the worst type. People do not know where they are going with the whole situation now. We might finish up with a board of maybe one member for every county in the country at the next Stage because-----

And two for south Dublin.

Yes, and maybe a few more here and there in the city. It certainly leaves an awful lot to be desired. More questions will be asked after this than there ever were before. If this is politics working to put something right, if we went about making something wrong God only knows where we would finish up . That is what I would like to put to the Minister. The deal that was done is certainly interesting, to say the least.

We have to focus on the subject matter of the amendments. We cannot go back to Second Stage speeches.

I wish to speak to amendment No. 6 in the name of Deputy O’Callaghan.

The Labour Party will support the amendment but it behoves us to make some political points on the nature of how this legislation is beginning to unfold. It is very clear now that Sinn Féin has done a deal with the Government in respect of sentencing guidelines. What we would like to know, what the House would like to know and what the people who are looking at this legislation would like to know, is what the nature of that deal is and whether it will be published in some transparent way in order we can all have sight of what happened-----

It is called love.

-----in respect of the position that Sinn Féin has adopted on this matter.

It is very rarely that I agree with Deputy Wallace but he is right when he says this is poor legislation designed to keep the Minister, Deputy Ross, on board. If we really examine the nature of the legislation, in his assault on official Ireland, the Minister, Deputy Ross, rails against insiders and cronyism and he has always had two targets in mind, with one being the Civil Service and the second being the Judiciary.

That is what is baffling about this cunning plan of his. Ironically, in order to "reform the Judiciary", the judges will ultimately be appointed on the advice of senior civil servants and their placemen. It is precisely what the Bill now proposes. There has been much comment on how the Bill will reduce political and judicial input but there is no attention at all on who will provide the substitute input. In our rush to depoliticise the judicial appointments process, we are being asked to put a very significant part of it into the hands of the Public Appointments Service.

What is the Public Appointments Service element? It is a body consisting of five senior career civil or public servants, including two departmental assistant secretaries, the former chair of the Northern Ireland Civil Service commissioners and three personnel consultants. I do not see why the senior Civil Service should have any role in appointing the judges, even at the remove of appointing those who will recommend the appointments. Let us be realistic about this. The State in its various guises is by far the biggest consumer of judicial services and whereas politicians come and go, our senior civil servants – the permanent administration – are daily at the receiving end of adverse judgements and rebukes in our courts. Decisions are overturned, schemes are upset and spending plans are thrown into disarray by court decisions.

The major differences on the bench are not those between judges appointed by different Governments. We all know that there is no pattern at all of Fine Gael judges defending their own team and having a go at Fianna Fáil Governments or vice versa. Neither is the major difference on the bench one between those of a liberal or a conservative disposition. The major differences are between those judges who are disposed to toe the line and those who do not.  It is between those who, from the perspective of the Executive branch of Government, know their place and those who do not.

The judges have two basic tasks. One is to do justice in disputes between individuals and the other, perhaps more important, is to curtail the power of the State and its agencies and to confine public bodies to the rule of law; in short, it is to bell the cat. The senior mandarins who shape the future of our Civil Service should not have the same sort of say in shaping the future of our Judiciary. The amendment that speaks to common sense and good legal practice is the Fianna Fáil amendment. It strikes a good balance between lay persons and pre-existing members of the Judiciary. It is a little grubby that we are trying to make law here on judicial appointments and it has become the subject of a political deal between the Government and Sinn Féin. The Government and Sinn Féin should publish the content and elucidate on and enlighten us as to what went on between the two parties when they arrived at this deal.

I am concerned that we are undoing a system that has served this country well for more than 100 years just to satisfy one Minister who is supporting the Government. It is about keeping him on side in order that he will continue to support the Government. He has been promoting this proposal for many years even before he was elected to this Dáil. It is clear that our Judiciary has been exemplary in all those years and in spite of everything, it is clear to me and many others that judges gave fair, honest and impartial judgment on whoever came before them over the years.

The Bill indicates a change in the way judges are to be appointed. My worry is that lay persons will be recruited by the Public Appointments Service. Who will select those who will effect that recruitment? Will it not be done by the Cabinet, the Government or Members? How could that be right? There will be lay people selecting judges who may or may not have any idea of how to select a judge according to competency, fairness and ability, which is most important. Is that going to be a consideration at all? I am very worried about this. The proposal is for a lay majority, which is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot see how that would be fair at all. The Bar Council is totally opposed to this idea of lay persons being in charge of judicial appointments. It is correct in that assessment. I cannot see how lay members in this job could have the experience that judges accumulate over years on the bench, dealing with all the aspects, problems and cases that come before them. How could lay members have that knowledge in the space of a couple of years?

It is absurd to think that is where we are just to please one Minister and to keep him on side. It is bad enough what he is doing to people in rural Ireland but if he gets away with doing this to our justice system, it will make a farce of the whole thing. There would be a lay chair recruited by the Public Appointments Service, which is totally absurd and wrong. The majority would have to be lay members but there must be an ability to form a strategic objective and provide leadership to implement changes to the body.

Very good people could come forward, but we are exposing ourselves to the unknown. We already know what we have in place. I ask the Government to go back and look at what it is doing. It just wants to satisfy the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. That is ridiculous.

Again, I ask the Minister for Justice and Equality about the Public Appointments Service. Who will appoint those involved? Judges have always provided fair and honest judgments. They had the experience to do so because many of them started off as solicitors and progressed up the line and became District Court or Circuit Court judges and, eventually, High Court judges. That was the right way to do it. It has worked, as I said, for over 100 years.

I appeal to the Government to take another look at what it is doing because I believe we are going down the wrong road in what we are doing with this Bill. As the earlier speakers have said, we now hear the Bill is getting support from Sinn Féin. There must be something happening. Then Sinn Féin elects a Fine Gael Senator to the vacant Seanad seat.

The Deputy is straying into different areas now.

I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, but that is the truth. It is happening behind the scenes. This is why I am extremely worried about what is going on.

I was away for three days with the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence last week. I did not realise that all these agreements had been reached in my absence. Perhaps we could have some clarification as to what actual agreements were made because this is news to me. I do not know of any agreement with Sinn Féin. I was not asked about it, nor did I hear about it. I just wonder where all this information is coming from.

It is a love affair.

Please, Deputy.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae is a great man for hopping from one side to the other so he should not have a go off me.

I am not having a go.

It is 37 years since I was first elected to this House. In those 37 years, I have seen numerous judges appointed by various Governments. Not once in 37 years has there been a collapse in confidence in the judicial system, and I wonder where all this is coming from. I cannot think of anything better than the Minister of the day, whatever party he or she is a member of, having the responsibility of announcing to this House who will be appointed a judge. All these commissions are taking away from and eating into the respect people have for the elected Members of this House and someone should call a halt to what is going on.

As to the agreement, or so-called agreement, with Sinn Féin, I have not been informed of any agreement. Perhaps the Deputies who have spoken about this and seem very definite about it could give me some information as to the exact agreement because, as I said, I was away on parliamentary business for three days last week. It may have happened while I was away but I know nothing about it.

It seems that time is being spent in this House on Report Stage of a Bill concerning judicial appointments but we are straying into comments to the effect that agreements have supposedly been made between one party and another and that Ministers should be the last people to be given power to appoint people. I cannot think of anyone better, whatever the political party, than the person who got his or her seal of office in Áras an Uachtaráin from the President to have the responsibility to come before this House and announce appointments, whether in justice or any other area of government. I will not be here after the next election but I wish to put on the record the fact that we should cop ourselves on and that the people have elected all of us here, irrespective of the parties of which we are members - or whether we are members of parties at all - and they expect us to do the job and be answerable to them. There is no point in any of us, when confronted, whether on a canvass or walking down the street, answering people who ask us about appointments by saying we do not appoint anyone and that it is a commission of some description that does so. The Government is elected to govern, and it is time we called a halt to this.

I am sorry. I appreciate the Ceann Comhairle's indulgence because I suppose if I were in his position, which I used to be, I could accuse myself of making a Second Stage speech.

Deputy Barrett was always fair.

However, my comments are all tied into the amendments we will face. Therefore, I feel I am within the rules - to some degree in any event - of being able to make these points. I would just like to have them on the record of this House before I leave and to issue a warning. This is purely a personal opinion, with which people may disagree, but this business of for ever passing on responsibility to another body is totally foreign to me. I have seen people of all parties and none come in here and make good decisions. Yes, there were some bad decisions but, by God, they were better than some of the ones that have been made by outside bodies over which we have no control or say. It seems to be the case now that we are all afraid to make decisions in case the media might have a go off us. Let us cop ourselves on really and truly. The appointment of the Judiciary is very important. As Deputy O'Callaghan, who practises in the Law Library, will tell anyone, there are some good solicitors and some bad solicitors, and some good barristers and some bad barristers. However, by and large, the people who serve on the Bench do a reasonably good job in very difficult circumstances, and the way in which they have been appointed has not seemed to cause any great problem until now. I wonder where we are going all the time in taking away responsibility from this House for making decisions. These decisions taken in courts affect ordinary people's lives. I wonder how key people can be appointed by some body with various representation. What is wrong with elected Members? If elected Members make bad decisions, the people have the choice not to re-elect them in the future.

I just wanted to put this on the record. I do not mean any disrespect to my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, but, generally speaking, we would want to watch where we are going with this.

Regarding the appointment of judges, this decision, from what I can gather, was made previously by Governments. I happen to agree fully with Deputy Barrett. He is an experienced politician and what he had to say certainly warrants full listening to. I was interested to hear it.

I had this discussion with the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport many months ago when he was doing what a Minister should do, namely, looking for support for this Bill. However, the issue I could not understand was that at present, according to the system we have in place, the Government of the day makes the decision in appointing the Judiciary.

From what I can gather, in future the decision will be made a new commission established by the Government. I do not see much difference in where we are going. The Government of the day will appoint a group of people to make that decision but the Government of the day would have had to make the decision in any event. One might assume that the group will be made up in the way that the Government of the day will wish it to be made up and will make whatever decision that Government wished to make in the first instance. My view is that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is trying to make himself look good, as though he has done something with this Bill. He is codding the people. He might fool some of the people some of the time but he will not fool all of the people all of the time.

On appointments to positions on boards, even in the context of the Road Traffic Bill, I heard the Minister speak of appointments of someone from a certain sector to the Road Safety Authority, RSA. I questioned that and got no answer as to who appointed that person. He is the same Minister who tells us that politicians should not appoint people to boards but it looks as though he has done just that. Maybe he should clarify the position but that is something for down the road. I am very concerned that this would be taken away from the Government and the political system. We are elected by the people, as Deputy Barrett observed. Surely to God we are strong enough to make that decision for the greater good of the country and not be setting out another layer of complication in respect of this issue.

It looks as though it is a done deal and that it is part of a Government agreement that this must be pushed through. I would be concerned if that were the case. I am glad to have the opportunity to speak on this tonight. My views are on the same lines as those of Deputy Barrett. I appreciate his comments because they come from an experienced politician.

From the debate this evening, rather than from any previous Stage at which this legislation was subjected to scrutiny, there appears to be some contagion from the Road Traffic Bill. That contagion appears to be directed towards my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. I will not apologise for the Minister, I do not have instructions to apologise for him and I do not have authority to apologise for him for any issues that may have arisen between the Deputies regarding another piece of legislation. I am saying that to both Deputies Healy-Rae and Deputy Michael Collins. This appears to be-----

Some people-----

Deputy, let the Minister carry on, please.

----more about the Road Traffic Bill than the Judicial Appointments Bill. It is very clear from the contributions.

No, this is something different.

Deputies, please.

On a point of order.

No, there is no point of order. Please allow the Minister respond.

On a point of order.

There is no point of order. The Minister is trying to respond to the debate.

He is kind of lost.

He is not lost.

No. The Road Traffic Bill is all he is talking about. The only journey that is taking place is whatever journey he has made with Sinn Féin, having cobbled this deal together. That is the only traffic that I can see. The traffic is all one way.

The Minister to continue, please.

I want to acknowledge Deputy Clare Daly's point on the Judicial Council Bill. She is correct and I agree with her. Unfortunately, progress with the package of amendments to which she referred has been slower than I would have wished. However, it is my intention to bring an appropriate number of amendments to the legislation aimed, for instance, at approving the transparency in the complaints process including in dealing with sentencing, which I had indicated at Second Stage when I introduced that legislation. I hope to have that before the summer recess.

I agree with Deputy Barrett when he states that the appointment of members of the judiciary is a most important task. I thank him for his contribution. Despite this reforming legislation, it is important to note that at all times the ultimate decision, in accordance with our Constitution, on the appointment of members of the Judiciary, will be made by Government. That does not change here. It is essential that we acknowledge that this decision for the appointments, which is serious and important, will be made by Government. It is merely the architecture around the recommendations that will be under this committee and the Government will ultimately make the decision. That will be unchanged.

I will make a brief point about the Attorney General as it has been the issue of most debate. I acknowledge the contributions of Deputies O'Callaghan, Sherlock, Ó Laoghaire and others on this. The knowledge and attributes that the Attorney General will bring across a range of legal and judicial matters are really important in the context of anyone coming forward for judicial appointment. The Attorney General represents the State in so many legal proceedings. He or she is the representative of the public in all legal proceedings for the enforcement of the law and the assertion or protection of public rights. The day-to-day interaction with the law in the courts at the highest level of legal interaction and legal proceedings provides the Attorney General with a unique perspective of the work of practitioners as well as the deliberations of the courts. I have not been convinced by the points of argument which I have heard about the removal of the Attorney General who plays a really important role.

I wish to address some of the points that have been raised by other Deputies. We start from a position of having supported this Bill on Second Stage and Committee Stage. Others did not. Fianna Fáil, for example, did not support it for its own reasons. We have always believed that it is necessary to improve the manner in which judicial appointments are made, to take them out of political influence. That was our view at the beginning and it remains our view. It is the case that we have keenly pursued the issue of sentencing guidelines for several years, through several Private Members' Bills. We saw an appropriate location for it in the Judicial Council Bill and saw provisions in that legislation which we held to be inadequate. Anyone who does not think that it is reasonable to go to the Minister for Justice and Equality and outline the Bill's inadequacies and express the desire for the Department to do what it could to see it strengthened. I am sure that the Oireachtas would support it being strengthened. Anyone who does not believe that is reasonable is grandstanding. It is something that is very clearly in the public interest, it has been sought for a very long time and it is vitally important. I do not think that there is any more to it than that.

It remains the case that we will analyse each amendment as it comes. I will not support Deputy O'Callaghan's amendment because I believe in the principle of a lay majority. I do not support the Attorney General being part of it. Consequently, I will consider those amendments on that basis. I am anxious to ensure, however, that the presidents of the Circuit Court and the District Court will be reintroduced into the equation.

In terms of what is being discussed and the proposals there, there is more of a consensus than one would imagine listening to the debate. There is agreement on the need for more transparency and that there needs to be independence; there is agreement on reintroducing the presidents of the District Court and the Circuit Court.

There is broadly a consensus, albeit with some disagreement, on a lay majority. There is also a widespread view that there needs to be a way to ensure that the lay members are not just traditional Public Appointments Service appointments but that we find other ways of making them more diverse and more representative. The outstanding issues can and should be addressed and I hope they will be.

I ask the Minister to explain to the House why Fine Gael now believes that a lay majority and a lay chairperson, rather than the Chief Justice who is the current chairperson of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, JAAB, are essential to the process. Why does the Minister propose a reduction in the percentage of judges on the commission, as compared with the percentage on the JAAB? Why does the Minister not trust members of our Judiciary to select and recommend candidates based on merit? Why does he believe our judges must be outnumbered by a lay majority to keep them in check? Where is the evidence that this is necessary? I am not so sure that there is any logic to the Minister's argument and I am not even sure it is based on a dearly held view in Fine Gael. The Minister should answer my questions. It would be disingenuous of me not to point out that the Minister is not being genuine in his approach to this Bill. I have serious issues with what is going on here.

I have tabled amendment No. 7a, which has been accepted by the Ceann Comhairle's office, for which I thank him. I have taken the barristers' representative off the commission to deal with the fact that my original amendment, which was an even split of 14 members, was deemed to be out of order because it would incur a cost to the State, which I pointed out last week was not true. I had to deal with that issue but I hope that amendment No. 7a will be supported by the other parties in the House. I would be in favour of the barristers' representative being put back onto the commission during the Seanad debate on the Bill because it makes sense to do so but I had to deal with what was before us. In my original amendment I had proposed including two extra judges, who would be paid expenses but not a salary, and removing one lay member, thus doing away with his or her salary. My amendment would actually have saved the State money. The Government then came up with the magical figure of 17, which would make the commission unworkable. Where has common sense gone? Can the Minister stand over that? It beggars belief.

I put it to Sinn Féin that if there is a good argument for incorporating sentencing changes into this Bill, we can all take those points on board, learn from them and I am sure we would be open to supporting them. However, that is entirely different to going behind the scenes and horse trading in advance of this session. If Sinn Féin genuinely wants to have the presidents of the two courts back on the commission, but objects to the Attorney General's inclusion, it should support Deputy Wallace's amendment, which provides for that composition. For us, the lay versus legal issue was never decisive. What is at stake here is the independence of the appointment of the Judiciary from the political process but the Government's reinstatement of the Attorney General has actually made the situation worse. It is not true to say, as the Minister claimed earlier, that the knowledge of the Attorney General is being discounted. It is not being discounted but is being listened to in the arena where it should be listened to, that is, as with other jurisdictions with a similar system, as a valued adviser to the Government. If the Attorney General is present in the room when the commission is deliberating and is privy to all of the thought processes involved there and then goes and sits in on the second stage of the process and can tell tales to Government, so to speak, on the earlier thought processes, how is that lessening political interference? As the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, ICCL, has pointed out, the Attorney General is a political appointee, which we all know. Not only that, matters are made worse by the fact that the Government is seeking to provide that the Minister can reappoint the lay members on the commission. Commission members will know that the Attorney General can go back and tell the Minister about the commission's deliberations, which will mitigate against the independence of the lay members because they will know that they could be reported back to the Minister.

This is heartbreaking, given the amount of work that has gone into this legislation. It is bad law and I echo Deputy Barrett's point that at this, the 11th hour, we should call a halt to this because it is all over the shop in terms of different amendments and so forth. We are going to seriously regret what has been done here, particularly as the Judiciary has generally served us well. What started out as a project to make a process better will end up making it much worse. It is actually scary.

I listened to the Minister and to the Sinn Féin representative speak on my amendment No. 6. but I have not heard any valid explanation of their contention that it is inappropriate. I would like to speak to the amendment again and remind Members of its contents. Unlike the Government, I do not think there should be 17 people on the commission. We must remember that the function of this commission is to advise the Government on the appointment of approximately eight to ten people to judicial office each year. It is an advisory board. When one sets up an advisory board, one wants it to give one advice based on its expertise and for that reason, one puts individuals on it who have knowledge of a particular area. I carefully drafted this amendment to ensure that there was no particular majority of any one group. There are five members of the Judiciary on my proposed commission of 11 people. There is no judicial majority. There are four lay people nominated by four respected entities in Irish society with knowledge of the courts. The lay people do not have a majority on the commission. There are two members of the legal profession on the commission because as I mentioned previously, the only people who can be appointed as judges in this country are lawyers. That being the case, it makes sense to have people on the commission who are aware of how lawyers work. If one wants to determine whether an individual is going to be suitable for judicial appointment, one should not just look at his or her curriculum vitae which takes a few hours to draft, but at his or her 20 years of experience working as a lawyer. That will give one a better indication of what type of judge he or she will make. The commission proposed in my amendment does not contain a majority of any individuals. Unfortunately, Deputy Ó Laoghaire has fallen for the language of Deputy Ross. He has said that he is in favour of a "lay majority". In stating that, Sinn Féin is accepting that judges are members of the legal profession but they are not and it is disrespectful of judges to say that. We are missing the point if we do not recognise that no group should have a majority, irrespective of the personal wishes of any Minister.

I wish to put on the record that in no way was I being disparaging of or disrespectful to Deputy Barrett. As the Deputy himself knows that I hold him in nothing but the height of esteem, as did my late father. Any person who has served in the Houses of the Oireachtas for almost 40 years deserves nothing but respect from every Member, myself included. All I was trying to do was to highlight the fact that Sinn Féin has committed to voting for the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill once the Government introduces sentencing guidelines as part of the accompanying package. That is so ironic and as other Deputies have said, it is wrong to do so at this critical time. I wholeheartedly agree with Deputy Barrett's experienced, reasoned, sensible and sound contribution. He may not realise it but when he spoke one would hear a pin drop because quite simply everyone here, with the exception of the Minister perhaps, agreed with him. The Deputy definitely got a very good hearing from Members on this side of the House. His is the voice of experience and in time to come, people might reflect on what Deputy Barrett said. Future politicians who have yet to be elected may say "My God, yes, that man was right".

I mean it from my heart and soul because there seems to be a race to the bottom. We saw this in the past. Deputy Barrett was Ceann Comhairle when local councils were abolished. I disagreed with that. It was a populist thing to advocate getting rid of politicians. The Government was saying it would get rid of the Seanad. I do not know why the Minister is smiling because he was shouting to get rid of the Seanad. Many of the people who were in favour of getting rid of the Seanad at the time were damned glad to have it to get into when they lost their seats in the Dáil election.

They are in the Seanad now and they are very proud Members of that House. They are the very Members who were shouting to abolish it during the term of the last Government. That is why Deputy Barrett was 100% right in what he said. Perhaps the Minister and others might not like it but it is nice to hear a person of experience talking sense. It is only right that people like me, who have been around for only a fraction of the time of Deputy Barrett, listen to what he says.

It is like a race to the bottom in the belief politicians cannot be trusted and that, instead of giving them the position of chair, lay people should be appointed. My goodness, what are people being elected for if they are going to be abdicating their responsibilities? As rightly stated, politicians have to be judged regularly when elections are called. If they are making right or wrong decisions, the public will deal with them at the time of an election.

At meetings of the Dáil reform committee and others, I often hear it said that there is weak Opposition legislation going through and that detailed pre-legislative scrutiny must be done. It is said we must be very careful not to put through legislation that is ill thought out. I do not believe there is a more ill-thought-out Bill than that before us. It would almost be entertaining if it were not so serious. The Attorney General's dog's dinner is set out before us in a proper fashion. It is almost like a fantasy football arrangement whereby one asks whether one should have 11 players on one's team. I cannot believe the Minister is putting forward an amendment suggesting a commission of 17 advisers to deal with this. There is a reason football teams are no bigger than 15. Once one goes above that sort of size, it does not work. A committee of 17 is too large. Any psychological analysis of how to get something done shows that one should not have 17 people involved. If this is still being done purely to pander to a certain political hypothesis - I am being kind when I say that - that our system of appointing judges has been a disaster and that we must introduce six lay people in order to have a majority without which the whole process would be polluted, it just beggars belief.

Section 12, which deals in such length with how one would actually appoint the people who would advise one how to appoint the other people, just beggars belief. If I introduced this as a Private Members' Bill, the Minister would say to me that I would not get it to Committee Stage, that I would not get a money order and that I would not get anywhere with it. That is what is remarkable.

I agree with Deputies Clare Daly and Wallace that we all know this is not Fine Gael's intention. Surely it does not believe our appointments to the Judiciary have been so flawed and that our legal system is so toxic that we have to implement a new regime with a lay majority. I do not believe Fine Gael believes that. It would be more honest to admit that at this stage and opt for an alternative. Would I opt for the Jim O'Callaghan 11 or the Mick Wallace 14? To be honest, choosing between one and the other is dancing on the head of a pin. I would not opt for 17, however. More than anything else, I would move away from the whole narrative that we have to do what is proposed because we cannot trust our judges, Chief Justice and the system which, by and large, has actually served us very well.

There may be significant issues at lower court level in respect of political appointments and so on. We have to address that to depoliticise the system. The last Government might not have been as good at this as most previous Administrations. We have managed to avoid the politicisation of judicial appointments. This Bill is politicisation to satisfy the Independent Alliance over a thesis that no one here believes except one Minister.

Cabinet government works to the strength of our country because of collective responsibility. That sometimes leads to difficulty and it requires collective honesty. We should be honest and say that no one in this Chamber believes what is being said, not even Sinn Féin, whose members I hope are changing their minds because the absurdity is surely apparent. We should put a stop to it. I will not choose between 11 and 14 because, as I stated, we are dancing on the head of a pin. One thing is for certain, however: I will not be voting for a 17-member commission because that is stretching credulity beyond belief.

Deputy Barrett spoke to the heart and soul of Fine Gael in regard to this matter tonight. Notwithstanding the ideological differences between all of us in this House, when somebody of Deputy Barrett's experience stands up and questions authoritatively the manner in which the legislation is proceeding and speaks so passionately about the confidence in the Judiciary of the Irish people, it has to be taken very seriously in this House. While we are all distracted by the referendum campaign taking place outside these walls, we have to be mindful of what this legislation ultimately seeks to do. It is seriously flawed as it is constructed, and that is why we have to employ common sense regarding the number of persons to be appointed to the commission. Common sense ordains that 11 members is a reasonable number. If there is a practising barrister, a practising solicitor, a chairman elected by the commission, and the other constituent members proposed by Fianna Fáil, one has a solution that seeks to mediate between opposing positions. It strikes a balance in which everyone would have confidence. When did we arrive at a situation where this House would be held hostage by the whims and vagaries of the personality of one Minister who is seeking to drive a coach and four through the Judiciary and official Ireland? The net effect of what is being created is arguably that more power is being given to the Civil Service through the Public Appointments Service, which leaves us in a very bad space in respect of this legislation. It sets a very bad precedent.

I too am thankful for the Minister's attempt to clarify the position but, as far as I am concerned, he did not provide any real clarification. I support Deputy O'Callaghan's amendment No. 6, which contains a nice mixture in terms of the members. I also want to salute and pay tribute to An Teachta Barrett. We often clashed in the Chamber in the past but he has given me good advice and I respect his opinion. We are here tonight afraid to take responsibility as politicians. We want to hive it off to the Health Service Executive, commissions and different groups. That is a very bad road to go down and a man of Deputy Barrett's experience and longevity in this House and elsewhere is aghast as to how this changed in the few days he was away. We are all aghast at the way it changed or where it changed. I compliment him and thank him for his guidance and clear warning that this is a very bad turn of events, and a very bad pattern to set here. We are the arbiters for the time being in terms of legislation. Whether they send us back here or banish us after the next election, the members of the public will adjudicate on the good or bad decisions we make but we should be accountable. We are accountable but we have seen too many issues arise with the HSE and other organisations for which people were not accountable.

It is ironic that we are here tonight dealing with this Bill at this juncture, particularly in light of what is going on in the referendum campaign whereby we want the people to give away their say to politicians. We have powers here but we want to hand them to a quango. Quangos have beset this land like a plague. When the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, was set up, I said it was like a wild animal released in the woods and that we would not know where it would end up - and we do not. We only have to look at the current mess. We are asking the public to trust us to pass legislation on the most serious of issues, namely, the life of the unborn, yet we want to give away the powers we have here just to satisfy one Minister. The Minister, Deputy Flanagan, might say we are attaching the two Bills, so to speak. It might sound as if we are doing that because both of them are appalling pieces of legislation. This Bill is worse than the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill. It is a mess, all because of a man and his ego so that he can tell his constituents in south Dublin that he has got two pieces of legislation through the House.

It is nothing to be laughed at anyway.

He will tell them that he wrote about it for 20 years, that he has been in government for two years but that he got two pieces of legislation passed in one week. He will say, "My God, I am some man". Clint Eastwood with his quick draw is only trotting after him. It is an indication of the abrogation of responsibility on the part of politicians that he is coercing the Minister to do all kinds of deeds with different parties that normally he would not touch with a 40 ft pole. I think it stinks.

Nuair a bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an díospóireacht seo san oifig, chuala mé roinnt de na hargóintí a bhí á ndéanamh ag Teachtaí maidir le leasú Uimh. 6, ach go háirithe. D'fhéach mé ar leasú Uimh. 7a, in ainm an Teachta Wallace, freisin. Measaim go bhfuil a lán le rá maidir leis an gceist seo. Tá go leor ráite ag daoine cheana féin. Is í an fhadhb is mó atá agam leis an moladh seo ná go gceapann daoine gur chóir go mbeadh aon athrú atá le teacht sa chomhthéacs seo mall, agus nár chóir go mbeadh athrú mór i gceist. Tá sé i gceist acu siúd atá ag déanamh cosanta ar an status quo, agus ar ghrúpa pribhléideach inár sochaí, nach bhfuil dóthain eolais ag ghnáthphobal na tíre - nach bhfuil an t-eolas sin ach amháin acu siúd a bheidh roghnaithe mar bhaill an choimisiúin seo. Ní chreidim gur cheart go dtiocfaidh na baill ón dream atá ag cleachtadh an dlí amháin. In terms of my family background, relatives on my mother's side and my father's brother-in-law practise law here and in another jurisdiction. I have cousins who practise in Geneva, so I have some understanding of the issue but I do not believe, and I do not think anyone else would believe, that they are above others, elitist or the privileged few and that only they could dictate to the rest of society who should or should not be a judge as if there was no input or reflection from the ordinary commoner could give them. We should be very careful that we are not trying to continue that elitism and privilege. When we get the opportunity, we should try to present an alternative. Nobody is saying that those who go on the commission should have no understanding of law or how the legal system works. They do not have to be practising solicitors, barristers or judges to appoint other judges, no more than we should ever return to the way it was in the past when one had to be a practising Fianna Fáiler or Fine Gaeler in government to decide on the appointment of judges in this country or one had to have an anti-republican bias, as we have seen over the years. Many people in our society today know much more about the courts and how the courts system works than those who pretend that they understand the law inside out. In recent years, many of the big legal cases came on the back of the ordinary person having some understanding of the law, pointing out flaws in the law and using the courts in their own right to highlight those. Many laws have been interrogated because of the benefit of lay people in the courts. They understand. They are not part of the elite. They are not part of the privileged group.

In terms of what others are saying about a commission of 17, 21, 23 or whatever number of members, I agree that the membership should be as small as possible in order to deliver the result we want but if we want to include people from the legal profession and some from lay society, it then starts to get unwieldy, as is the case in this House because we had to have members of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, the Green Party on committees. We have committees of 21 members. The most recently formed committee, and I do not know the number of members it ended up with, is the committee on the report on Seanad reform. As far as I know, it has 21 members. It can work if the membership is big. It can be unwieldy but given that the task is not so onerous, I believe we could deal with a big number once it does not get too unwieldy.

Tá mé ag rá gur cheart go mbeadh tromlach de ghnáthphobal na tíre bainteach le roghnú na mbreithimh, más féidir. Sa deireadh thiar thall, tá sé mar bhunchloch sa chóras atá againn faoi láthair gur daoine atá ar chomhleibhéal leo siúd atá os comhair na cúirte a ghlacann cinnithe dlíthiúla. Má tá na breithimh ar chomhleibhéal linn, ba chóir go mbeadh ghnáthphobal na tíre in ann ionchur a dhéanamh nuair atá siad á roghnú. Meabhraím don Teach go bhfuil sé mar chumhacht ag breithimh saoirse a bhaint ó dhaoine - ó ghnáthphobal na tíre - nuair atá siad os comhair na cúirte. Is rud mór é sin. Nílimid ag iarraidh go mbeadh aon sórt bias ag na breithimh a roghnaítear. Impím ar dhaoine smaoineamh athuair ar an leasú seo agus tacaíocht a thabhairt do Shinn Féin sa chás seo.

I certainly do not believe that the status quo should remain or that the appointment of judges or anything else should be for those who are privileged enough to be at that level and to be considered. I want to see reform. I have been to various courts to see for myself the inefficiencies and the poor respect for citizens. I am not saying that is the case in every court but I am saying it in regard to issues that have arisen in our time for those courts and those judges. I have seen at first hand the way they are not treated fairly and, therefore, I want to see it reformed. However, is this the radical overhaul of the appointment of judges in particular that I would expect? No, it is not. It is simply a Government that is pandering to the likes of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to ensure that it remains in office. It makes no sense whatsoever to see almost €1 million being spent every year on an office for the commission.

There is no sense in appointing 17 people or that high a number to a commission that will simply make recommendations to a Minister, probably providing the Minister with three or four names, and for the Minister to end up deciding on the appointment of a judge, possibly on a political basis. This is wrong. We are now outsourcing these appointments. It is a case of give them away to a commission, send health issues to the HSE and create some other quango that will deal with the issue we are afraid to touch because we lack the political leadership and muscle to do what is necessary for this country, which is, essentially, to show leadership and fairness. This is what is happening here.

When they were on this side of the House, I heard the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and others in Fine Gael shout and roar about the burning of quangos. It was a case of we will see no more of them. Half of them will be gone. None of that has happened. It all stopped mid stream because the Government refused to deal with those who were appointed and the comfortable few who gain from all these quangos. The Government is also afraid of doing it because it will result in it having to make a decision based on its own advices or possibly based on common sense. That is what is lacking in this area - true commitment from a Government and true commitment from Fine Gael, which had a reasonable track record in this area. However, it bows down to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport who preached against all these quangos in the very recent past. I do not know why it does not challenge him because he needs to be challenged.

Setting up a system like this to appoint a judge does not correct the system. It is a flawed system now and this will be a flawed system. There are judges in the courts and if one looks at the efficiencies of those courts, one will see that none of them function very well. What about the death of Shane O'Farrell? Look at the litany of wrongs done to his family as it sought justice. Look at what was not told to the judges in that case. Look at all of the record of the individual concerned that was never recorded to inform the judge. So it is not only about the appointment of judges. It is about the system and how it operates and it is about taking political responsibility for what is happening in our courts and the appointment of judges.

I do not believe a commission of this number will serve the Judiciary or the Minister well and it will certainly not provide transparency and accountability for the general public. It will be a further waste of money throwing it into a quango that undoubtedly will grow in numbers and cost at a time when we cannot make ends meet for those who are challenged by the health service or indeed those challenged by the Judiciary and legal system. Is it not amazing that a woman is still in jail in defence of her own home and family while Members of this House have nothing to say about it? A judge put her there when they should not have done so because they should have taken two and yet that is the legal system we have.

We are here arguing about the appointment of judges. It will be seen as a waste of time and money that would have been best directed at reform of the judicial system and ensuring that people get into court and get justice early and on time because so many cases are stacked up. I have attended numerous cases where again and again, particularly in respect of banks and repossessions, everything is just put off to another day. They leave the individual who is trying to protect their home to fight for that other day and to go through further trauma and torment without any protection. It is time we opened it up and brought about reform but this certainly is not the type of radical reform the system needs. It is not the type of reform that will bring about a different and better type of justice for the citizens of this country. I say to Sinn Féin that it will do nothing except protect the privileged classes in this area. It will do nothing for anybody else. It is a complete and utter sham for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to suggest that this commission will change anything relating to the appointment of judges. It will add further cost and might satisfy him. It is a political answer to keep the Government intact but I am afraid the public sees it and will not wear it.

I will address a few points made by previous speakers, particularly the point made by Deputy Ó Snodaigh, for whom I have great respect. The Deputy seemed to imply that some judgments by judges have been anti-republican in nature. He should tell me if I am misinterpreting him.

No, I can give Deputy Lahart a list of them.

I remember growing up when extradition hearings were before the courts and when the extradition of people from this jurisdiction to the UK was resisted by the courts in this country. Historically, people in the Twenty-six Counties have had high regard for the manner in which judges kept this State safe during that period with the judgments they handed down concerning particular issues. The justice system needs to be defended against the broad sweeping statement made by the Deputy. It is important to say that.

Like Deputy McGuinness, we all have particular issues. One of the things I would like to have seen in this Bill involves an issue that is consistently brought to me by constituents, namely, family courts. By and large, as Deputy O'Callaghan has said on previous occasions when debating aspects of this Bill, judges make their decisions and decide on the outcome of hearings in public but, clearly, there are circumstances where hearings are not open. Family courts are one example of that. I have heard appalling stories of decisions, judges and judges' behaviour in family courts. I am not saying family courts should be opened up to the public. There is a very good reason those hearings are in camera but I do not see why they would not be open to supervision by peers in some shape or form like every other profession. That is the kind of reforming act I would like to see the Minister engage in instead of this prolonged and protracted insistence on his way that, as my colleagues have said and there is no point in repeating it, will be costly and seems churlish and infantile at the very least.

Of particular concern to me, as a Deputy in a Dublin constituency, is the political charge of cronyism made by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport last week against people who have held very senior positions from the Supreme Court down to the Circuit Court and District Court. This is the charge that Fianna Fáil appointed its cronies to positions. I will not stoop to that level but the Minister cannot avoid charges of cronyism himself regarding his own appointments. I will leave it there but there is a certain hypocrisy about some of the comments he made last week.

What concerns the public is the fact that he is the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. He received his seal of office having been democratically elected, having been appointed to his position by the former Taoiseach and having been re-appointed to the position of Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport by the current Taoiseach. There is hardly a Deputy in this House who would not envy the Minister in this position, the budget he has at his disposal to spend on incredible projects that are much needed throughout this country and the power he has to deliver major and minor infrastructural projects throughout the country.

He has been likened, unfairly possibly, in one particular newspaper to Winston Churchill, which is unfair on Winston Churchill who is associated with having a certain amount of vision, leadership qualities and strength of character at particular times in leading his people through particularly trying circumstances.

When it comes to transport, he is more like the character from the Gilbert and Sullivan musical, the Duke of Plaza Toro, who constantly leads his regiment from behind. He has offered no vision in his portfolio as Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. While traffic congestion reaches chronic levels in this city and roads approaching it, he fobs off every inquiry, which is made through parliamentary question, Topical Issue and Private Members' business, to the statutory agencies under his auspices.

I remember during a Topical Issue debate quoting from the movie about the history of the life of Abraham Lincoln. When he was seeking those vital few additional votes to secure the elimination of slavery in the United States, he declared, "I am the President of the United States, clothed in incredible power." The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is not the President of the United States, but he is clothed with considerable powers, with considerable influence and with awesome opportunity to leave his stamp and his mark on transport, tourism and sport policy in this country.

From the perspective of the statutory responsibility vested in him by the Taoiseach, he has been an abject failure. I would prefer to see the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport invest time and energy into issues under his ministerial control rather than these dog whistles to different constituencies, and allow the Minister for Justice and Equality and other Ministers to do their job. In that sense he would serve the public much more efficiently than he is at present.

I wish to clarify those who still have two-minute slots and can speak if they so wish. They are Deputies Danny Healy-Rae, Barrett, Michael Collins, Eamon Ryan, Ó Snodaigh, McGuinness and Harty.

Can our little country really afford another layer of bureaucracy, in light of the HSE and other such bodies that do not seem to be accountable to anybody making serious decisions? If they were positive decisions, we would be glad, but sadly they are having very negative impacts on society and they do not seem to be accountable, especially the HSE, to anyone for what they are not doing.

It is ridiculous when one reads here that the PAS must ensure that a layperson will not be recommended for appointment as chairperson of the commission unless it is satisfied that she or he is a fit and proper person. Deputy Ó Snodaigh could be right in saying that other people around the country have judicial and legal knowledge as well as the people at the Bar, judges or whoever, but will those people end up on the commission? That is the question.

While I did not select them, let us look at what the Citizens' Assembly has inflicted on the country. Who picked its members? How were they assessed? If we are going to have a commission in line with something like that body, we are looking for trouble.

The Chief Justice has a tried and trusted record under his belt with 30 or 40 years of service on every level from solicitor to barrister, to District Court judge, to Circuit Court judge all the way up along the line. It is ridiculous to even suggest that we should be replacing those people with laypeople. It will take years to find out whether they are right or wrong with the appointments they make.

Go raibh maith agat.

Most likely they will not be better than the Chief Justice-----

-----the President of the Court of Appeal, the President of the High Court, the President of the Circuit Court or the President of the District Court.

The time has expired.

Those people could never come up to that level or have that amount of experience.

I appreciate the Minister trying to clarify, but it changes nothing. The fact is, as I said earlier, it will be a commission set up by the Government of the day and instead of the Government making the decision, it will be setting up a new quango of some sort. Who will pay for all this? What will this cost the State? It could be quite frightening. Irrespective of whether it is the HSE or the Judiciary, every sector needs tightening up.

I have raised in the Dáil on numerous occasions the case of a gentleman in Skibbereen. He was terribly wronged and is suffering severely. In 2010, a State body took a case against him. He is trying to get proof from the Courts Service of the registrar who attended on the day because the case should be null and void if no registrar attended. This man is seriously ill; he has gone through a terrible time. He said to me even when I spoke about it here recently, "If they'd just guided me to somewhere where I could find out, I'd greatly appreciate the truth. All I want is the truth." He has been in my office on numerous occasions and I have tried to make representations on his behalf. Was there a registrar in the court on the day? No one can identify the registrar to him and the case is null and void if there was not. Unfortunately nobody will clarify that for him.

The Minister, Deputy Ross, is on a journey of glorification and it is sad that it has come to this. I am surprised that Fine Gael is supporting it. I wonder what the Minister himself and many other people would say. In the past few months hundreds of people have said to me, "Minister Ross is a different man from the man we all read about." Unfortunately, this also looks very different from that.

The Minister should concentrate more on his portfolio. In transport, our roads are in a shocking condition. The main funding for tourism is now gone even though there was a promise that would not happen. Even with sports, he told us there was absolutely no political interference in the national lottery sports funding and then we find that €180,000 has been allocated to a cricket club in his constituency.

It is not hurling anyhow.

If we put in an application for a hockey club in south-west Cork, I do not think we would get €180,000. It is questionable as to what is going on in the Minister's Department. Perhaps the Minister for Justice and Equality might be able to enlighten us.

I listened to the contributions and responses to what I had said earlier. If anybody wants a history of the anti-republican bias of judges in the Special Criminal Court, I have no problem at all; I have time to give.

That is the Deputy's interpretation.

I will not necessarily go into it here. It is not just about anti-republicanism and judges falling asleep on the Bench or a history of abuse to some of the people before them in that court. It is also in other courts. This commission will not necessarily deal with that, but the advantage of having laypeople involved is that at least they come with a different view of the world.

We, in this institution, live in a bubble, albeit that we all work with constituents when we are not in the bubble in here. Many people believe that those in the law courts also live in a bubble, but they are humans; they have families and they live real lives. Sometimes when they approach anything to do with law, they put on that bubble hat again.

They perceive everybody to be against them. What is there to fear from having lay members on a commission? Nothing. What is there to fear from having a majority? Nothing. However, that is part of what the Deputy's argument is about.

I have no problem with that.

Read our proposals.

I have not spoken against Deputy Wallace's proposals and, if others had listened earlier, they would know I said I was mindful of the points he made. When I came in, Deputy O'Callaghan was on his feet and I heard the elitism he was talking about, in that we had to have people who were practising lawyers and so on. They are no different from the rest of us.

I did not say that.

He did. If he goes back to his presentation, he will see it was as if those in the legal profession are above the rest of us. He needs to be very careful in presenting the legal profession as above us. It is no different from any other profession in society. In this day and age, given the openness and transparency we are trying to create in our society, we need to try to ensure judges are never again appointed on the basis of who they know, which party they belong to or who influences them. It should be based on their legal experience and also their life experience.

It is unusual for me to contribute to a debate on Report Stage when I am not on the committee but I have listened to this debate for some time and I wonder if common sense has gone out the window altogether. We are proposing the establishment of a commission with 17 people. I think most right-minded people in this House do not believe that is an efficient commission or that it represents best value for money. I believe the Minister finds himself in a very awkward position in that this is the pet project of the man who sat beside him last week when Report Stage was in the House, the Minister, Deputy Ross.

I genuinely believe it. I believe we are establishing the commission on fundamentally the wrong grounds, that is, to satisfy the desire of the Minister, Deputy Ross, to have a commission of this scale. I have listened to many people debate this and to a lot of the discussion both in the House today and previously. Nobody has put forward a compelling reason we would need such a large commission to make recommendations to a Minister on the appointments. We are talking of the appointment of maybe eight or ten people in any given year. It is not as though this is a significant piece of work where the commission will divvy it up among different groups. I was astounded at this.

If I am not mistaken, the Government has indicated the cost of establishing and running this commission is some €1 million. I find it very ironic because the Minister, Deputy Ross, who is not here this evening has made a virtue out of closing down quangos, making efficiencies, better government and so forth. This flies in the face of everything the man has ever said. I am sorry he is not here to hear it. As I said, I would not ordinarily come in to say this, but I am furious with him. As a House, we are being made a laughing stock when we should be establishing a commission. I understand why there is a desire to have a judicial appointments commission and I understand the role of that commission, but I am absolutely of the view that a 17-person commission is grossly inefficient and will in no way enhance the delivery of these recommendations.

To follow on from a point made by Deputy Ó Snodaigh, I understand the commission as proposed by Deputy O'Callaghan would have a mix of members, including four lay members. It is important not to confuse this and say it is all professionals. Obviously, when establishing a commission, one wants a mix of skills. One would need those who understand the law but also those outside the law. That is the essence of Deputy O'Callaghan's submission on the establishment of this commission.

I am sorry the Minister, Deputy Ross, is not here. The figure of €1 million has come back to me in response to parliamentary questions I have asked. People might say it is well worth it for the number of appointments we are going to make but it is costing us €100,000 to €150,000 per appointment, if the figures we are given are correct, and that sounds outrageous. The Minister, Deputy Ring, was recently in the House and I asked him questions about funding for RAPID projects in my area, only to be informed the total budget for RAPID-funded projects in the whole country is some €1 million, or €64,000 per local authority area. There are real and tangible things that can be done with the money. While it sounds a small amount, I find it an appalling vista that we are talking about a commission of this nature to appoint maybe eight or ten judges per annum, with a budget of €1 million and with 17 people involved. We could not have made it any more complicated. I do not believe the quality of the decision making and the quality of the recommendations from such an unwieldy commission will deliver better results. If anything, it will be more complicated and will probably not deliver what we want. I implore Members to look at this again and to let common sense prevail.

We have all sat on committees. I heard Deputy Ó Snodaigh talk about the number of members on the committee established recently to deal with Seanad reform. We have all sat on committees with those big numbers and we know they are not the most efficient way of doing business. We understand why they have come into being, given the political make up of this House and the various parties, but it does not mean it is the most efficient way of doing business. If we were starting with a blank sheet of paper, we would not establish a committee with 17 people. Deputy Ó Snodaigh clearly indicated he felt the Seanad reform committee is too big and too unwieldy, but he has explained why it is there, and I agree with him. However, the judicial appointments commission does not have to be as large as that. There is nothing compelling us to do this. We can still have the mix of lay people and those from a legal background, but with a smaller and more efficient number and a smaller budget that is more appropriate to making the eight or ten appointments that are required this year.

The Minister, Deputy Flanagan, is snookered. He is here with something that I know, hand on heart, he does not fully believe in. I honestly believe he is here tonight with the pet project of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and he has to get it over the line, come what may. That is an appalling vista. It is unfair to the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, and his colleagues in Fine Gael and it is unfair to the Members of this House to be put in that position. None of us believes it is the best way forward.

The public need to be reminded of the point that was made at the beginning of this debate months ago. I ask my colleagues in Sinn Féin to focus on this. We are talking about appointing a quango of 20 people to make between ten and 20 appointments every year. I believe the public will find that really difficult to believe.

We do not have to pay them.

As we know, given it is a point that has been made repeatedly, at the moment the Judicial Appointments Board does this quite effectively and efficiently. The commission will be a quango.

The other point that I presume is not lost on our Sinn Féin colleagues, who are not the only republicans in this House, although I do not want to go back over the ground Deputy Ó Snodaigh covered, is that regardless of what decision this quango of 20 people makes and recommends to the Government, the Government can still reject that and go ahead and make its own appointment to a particular position as judge. That point is sobering. The public are looking in and wondering what is going on, given we are going to appoint a commission of 17 people to nominate up to 20 people a year yet, even after recommendations are made by this commission, which is going to cost hundreds of thousands of euro a year to function and operate, the Government can simply reject those recommendations and go ahead and make the nominations, as it has been doing. Indeed, the Minister, Deputy Ross, has been quite happy to sit by while it has been happening in the past six to eight months and the Government has made its own nominations and appointments to the positions.

To save the respect people have for him and for his own self-respect, the Minister should call this the way it is. This is a complete bluff. The Minister knows it is not going to work. He knows it will cost in excess of €1 million.

No, that is not true.

There are 17 on the commission, a directorate, there will probably be a legal firm advising it and accountants who need to report to the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Minister is allowing this to happen. He is smiling about it and I know he will deny the €1 million but he knows only too well that this is going to grow into something that will be out of control, out of reach of this House and will function solely in the interests of the Judiciary. It is nothing new or different and it is something that the Minister honestly does not believe in.

I hear the argument about having people outside of the Judiciary, members of the public, on this but what did the Judiciary do to the positive, constructive lay litigants? It introduced its own rules to ensure they would not be bothering it in the court. We have lay litigants because they do not believe in the system, they believe that it is broken. This is not going to fix it. This will add another broken piece to it that will not serve us or the public and that will allow the Government of the day, regardless of what Sinn Féin says, to establish this but at the end of the process, it will make its own political appointment. That is what it will do. It will go through the process and the Minister will make his own appointment. It is all in the interests of one person, namely, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. It is incredible that the Minister is doing this. The Minister should tell the truth that he does not believe in this. He has been sent in here to deliver this to save face for the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and to keep the Government on course. It is shameful.

In response to the issue of costs, it will not be anything like €1 million. In fact, it will be more like half that sum.

In response to Deputy Wallace's amendment No. 7a, which I have not had the opportunity to address, a fundamental flaw in the amendment is that he does not include any reference to the Attorney General or to a practising barrister. It seems to me to be somewhat disproportionate at the very least not to have reference to a practising barrister in his amendment.

In response to Deputy O'Callaghan, who said that I had not responded to his amendment or pointed out anything with which I had a difficulty, I merely say it has no lay chairperson, no idea that there will ever be a lay chair and no lay majority. These are two important policy issues from the Government perspective. There is no role for the Public Appointments Service and for the Attorney General. I cannot accept either of the amendments.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh gave the impression that I wanted to have no lay involvement on this body. That is not correct.

The amendment I tabled proposes a body of 11 people and four would be lay people. It is invaluable to have lay representation on a body such as this. I said previously that the importance of having lay people on regulatory bodies is different from this situation. The reason a majority of lay people is needed on regulatory bodies is to inspire public confidence because the public does not think the regulatory body is looking after the profession. I fully accept that when it comes to a regulatory body there should be a majority of lay people. This is an advisory body. The Minister has not explained why there has to be what he refers to as a lay majority on this advisory body. The function of it is to advise the Government on who are appropriate people to be appointed as judges. The only people in the country who can be appointed as judges are barristers or solicitors. I did not make that law. It is a law that exists around the world. The only people appointed as judges are lawyers. Nobody is suggesting that consultants should come from people who are not qualified as doctors. It makes a nonsense to suggest that there should not be a level of expertise on this. It is very easy to suggest that in these anti-expertise times we do not need anyone who knows anything about this and that the ordinary person is able to identify who is a suitable person. If there was a job going as editor of a national newspaper, would it be of advantage to the newspaper or the public to have a body full of lawyers on the commission deciding who should be the national newspaper editor?

It would be a nonsense. It would be laughed at. We should not just reject expertise because that has been put in the Minister's mind by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. It is a nonsense proposal and I ask people to support my amendment. It provides four lay people, two members of the legal profession and five judges. The judges play a role equivalent to being school principals. They know what is required in their court, the expertise that is needed and that the primary function and objective to have as a judge is somebody who will work hard and has knowledge of the law.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 45; Níl, 52; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Lahart, John.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Jim O'Callaghan and John McGuinness; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

I move amendment No. 7a:

In page 10, to delete lines 20 to 28 and substitute the following:

“10.(1) The Commission shall consist of 13 members being—

(a) the Chief Justice,

(b) the President of the Court of Appeal,

(c) The President of the High Court,

(d) the President of the Circuit Court,

(e) the President of the District Court,

(f) a practising solicitor nominated under section 13,

(g) the Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission,

(h) 6 lay persons appointed under section 12.”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 45; Níl, 53; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Lahart, John.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 10, line 20, to delete “13 members” and substitute “17 members”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 55; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Lahart, John.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 9 has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 9 not moved.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 10, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“(d) the President of the Circuit Court,

(e) the President of the District Court,

(f) the Attorney General,”.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 19; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace.
Amendment declared carried.

I have a question on a very technical issue. Earlier, we voted not to accept an amendment to increase the membership of the commission to 17, so we are going with the original legislation, which set out a membership of 13 and how that 13 will be arrived at. We have now just passed an amendment stating the President of the Circuit Court, the President of the District Court and the Attorney General will be included in the numbers. However, there must also be six lay people. We cannot describe these three as lay people. How, technically legally, will the amendment we have just agreed be put into law or enacted?

It is a dog's dinner.

Let us have the Minister, Deputy Ross, answer the question.

Can we have order please? Does the Minister care to clarify this?

Ask the sponsoring Minister. Where is he?

Please, can we have order?

Where is the Minister, Deputy Ross, now? There must be a tough question coming.

Where is the Minister, Deputy Ross?

He has gone missing.

The Dáil has voted to have a commission of 13 members, including the five presidents of the courts.

This is a charade.

The Minister is entitled to answer.

Which Minister?

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

This is dependent on a number of other amendments that have been debated but which have not yet been put. Deputy Ryan is right. As of now we have agreed a 13-member commission, and of those 13 members we have the President of the High Court, the Chief Justice, the President of the Circuit Court, the President of the District Court and the Attorney General. The balance can be made up of lay members to be nominated. These are contingent on amendments we have yet to reach.

Amendment No. 11 in the name of Deputy Clare Daly is out of order.

Amendment No. 11 not moved.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 10, to delete line 24 and substitute the following:

"(g) a member, being a person who is—

(i) a lay person, and

(ii) a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission,

nominated by that Commission under section 12,".

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 50; Níl, 45; Staon, 0.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Lahart, John.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace.
Amendment declared carried.

I seek clarification. I am open to correction, but it seems we have voted to allow for the election of 13 members to this body. However, the arithmetic does not appear to follow.

The Deputy is one of the voters.

It is a dog's dinner.

The majority voted in favour.

Just call it off.

We seem to have added additional members and, according to the amendments, there could be anything up to 17 people who could be deemed to be members of the commission. We have already voted to allow for only 13 members. Could we perhaps seek some clarification on the issue? On the commission we have the Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal, the President of the High Court, the chief commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, a practising barrister, a practising solicitor-----

All chiefs and no Indian.

-----a chairperson and six laypersons. We seem to have added the President of the Circuit Court, the President of the District Court and the Attorney General. The Minister's amendment to increase the number of members from 13 to 17 has been defeated. We are all confused about the process and need clarity from the Government on where exactly the legislation stands.

In fairness, the Government is not responsible for how the House votes.

I appreciate that.

A series of related amendments must be taken. At the end of having taken all of the amendments, it will be reasonable to look at their effect.

We cannot account for Members contradicting themselves.

If I can intervene again, I appreciate the point made by the Ceann Comhairle. As legislators, we need clarity.

What amendments are deemed to be admissible and which are not? We have apparently contradictory positions. Unless I am mistaken, we seem to have contradicted ourselves, which is why I seek clarification.

Only the majority contradicted themselves.

If I am adding them correctly, 17 does not go into 13.

There is no basis on which the Minister can be asked to interpret the result of a vote in the House.

Of course, absolutely. That is very basic.

The House has voted.

The majority of Members have contradicted themselves. That is all that has happened.

It is elementary.

At the end of the voting process, we will have a scenario we can discuss.

The majority of Members of the House are conflicted.

How is it proposed that we discuss this issue? Perhaps the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross, might enlighten us?

Perhaps the Ministers, Deputies Shane Ross and Charles Flanagan, might have a chat with one another.

We have not yet got to the end of the series of amendments.

Fine Gael has made the Shinners happy anyway. Thanks to it, they have got their hands on the Judiciary.

The Deputy has a real problem with democracy.

They are delighted.

We voted to have 13 members rather than 17, but some of the Members who voted for it are now voting in favour of having more members than the body can hold. The Minister does not need to clarify the matter, but Deputies should familiarise themselves with the amendments.

And the facts.

Yes, that would be helpful.

It is pure "Lannigan's Ball".

The problem is that the majority of the House do not know what they are doing.

I am not good at sums, but 17 does not go into 13. At this point I ask that the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross, who is driving the Bill-----

The Minister, Deputy Charles Flanagan, should withdraw what is nothing short of a total shambles. It will be all chiefs and no Indians on the board.

We are dealing with the question on a particular amendment.

I am asking the Minister, Deputy Shane Ross, to withdraw it as it is a shambles. He will be gone from the Chamber the minute voting finishes.

If Deputy Jim O'Callaghan's original Bill had been accepted, we would not have had any of this.

The Ministers should go out and have a chat.

I genuinely do not understand this. We voted today to have a body with 13 members. A proposal for such a body came from committee. On Committee Stage there were 13 named individuals for the 13 places. That was reaffirmed by the result of the vote on amendment No. 8 which went against the Government's suggestion of 17 members. Amendment No. 10, essentially, added three positions, thus contradicting the result of the previous vote.

It was the Minister's amendment.

Should that amendment have been ruled out of order, given that we had voted to set the number of members at 13?

We cannot add up the sums at the end because they already do not add up now and we are just compounding the problem as we go on.

The Deputy's point is noted. Let us get to the end and then assess-----

Did the Government not clear this at Cabinet?

I call Deputy Ryan.

Having raised this point-----

(Interruptions).

May we have order for Deputy Ryan, please?

The difficulty is that this has been the centre of the whole debate throughout the process and further amendments relating to section 12 all concern this issue as to how such numbers are appointed, but if we do not know the numbers we are debating in the unknown. We have put a fundamental uncertainty into the Bill, which means any further discussion on amendments will just be clouded by that fact.

We should suspend, a Cheann Comhairle.

The points that have been made are valid and will be considered when this group of amendments has been voted on. We will come back to the House at that point.

We will plead with the majority to do its sums before it votes the next time.

In the meantime, it might be advisable for Deputies to take a look at what they are voting for before casting their votes.

(Interruptions).

It is you and them. This is a great start to this coalition.

We know exactly what we are voting for.

The Irish people will not forgive Fine Gael for letting Sinn Féin-----

Wait, Deputies. Deputy John Curran has the floor.

A bad start, lads. Maybe have a chat with one another or something.

Please, Deputy Cowen. Deputy John Curran has the floor.

Good man, John.

While I do not dispute that these amendments, when tabled, were all in order, they were contingent on one another and were taken in a particular sequence. It seems to me - and this is a ruling for the Ceann Comhairle to make - that once amendment No. 8, which restricted the number to 13 as per the original Bill and did not permit the commission to number 17, was carried, the other amendments subsequent to and consequent on that should not have been put. There is no facility to put them. They are contingent on one another.

That is why we voted against them.

I ask the Ceann Comhairle to make a ruling on this before we continue with the other amendments that are related.

We have already made a decision.

That is why we voted against them. We could not believe it.

I will not make a ruling on the hoof. We will adjudicate on the matter.

What does the Minister, Deputy Ross, think?

(Interruptions).

The amendment has been put based on the debate that has been had. We will revisit the debate that has been had and the procedure that has been followed. If the procedure that has been followed is incorrect, we will come back to the House, report-----

The Government's failure.

-----that incorrect procedure has been followed and deal with that. However, at present we will not make any decision-----

The Government wants to continue.

-----to try to unravel the vote that the Members have cast.

We move on to amendment No. 13 in the name of Deputy Clare Daly.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 10, to delete line 27.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 42; Níl, 55; Staon, 1.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Lahart, John.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Stanton, David.

Staon

  • Harty, Michael.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Joe McHugh and Tony McLoughlin.
Amendment declared lost.

I am concerned about the point raised initially by Deputy Ryan and reflected by several others, that there appears to be an unacceptable level of confusion about what is happening. In order that we may clarify those matters, I suggest that we adjourn the House to give us an opportunity to consider further the amendments before us and the amendments that have already been voted on. We will return to the House tomorrow in a better position to consider them. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Debate adjourned.
The Dáil adjourned at 9.43 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 23 May 2018.