European Parliament Elections (Amendment) Bill 2019: Committee and Remaining Stages

Section 1 agreed to.
NEW SECTION

Amendments Nos. 1 and 4 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 6 of Principal Act

2. Section 6 of the Principal Act is amended by the deletion of “or the United Kingdom” in each place that it occurs.”.

These provisions remove the explicit reference to the United Kingdom and British citizens from the European Parliament Elections Act of 1997. These explicit references are contained in sections 6 and 11 and in rules 5, 6, 10, 18, 19 and 96 of the Second Schedule to the Act. The references in section 6 relate to the entry of British citizens resident in the State on the register of electors and the exchange of information that is required with other members states as to which member state, where applicable, such European electors intend to vote in.

The remaining references concern the eligibility of British citizens to stand as candidates for elections to the European Parliament held in Ireland and the exchange of information provisions required under the nomination process. Council Directive 1/2013 of 20 December 2012, amending directive 109/1993, relates to certain detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a member state of which they are not nationals. There are requirements on member states to exchange certain information with other member states on non-national European citizens resident in their territories. This is to prevent a person from double voting or from standing as a candidate in a member state if he or she has been prohibited from doing so in his or her home member state.

By virtue of these provisions of the European Parliament Elections Act 1997, British citizens resident in the State are treated in an identical manner to Irish citizens. In particular, in rule 10 of the Second Schedule, British citizens who wish to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament held in Ireland have 14 days in which to submit their nomination forms and other citizens from the European Union have only seven days in which to return their nomination forms.

While member states are permitted to differentiate between their own citizens and those from other member states who may wish to stand as candidates in the European Parliament elections to permit the necessary checks to take place, having multiple deadlines which distinguish between the citizens of other member states is considered incompatible with the requirements of Council Directive 1/2013. Legal opinion recently provided by the Attorney General confirms that multiple deadlines would most likely amount to direct discrimination between Union citizens and may not be capable of being justified.

Accordingly these amendments propose to remove the explicit reference to British citizens from the Act to ensure compliance with Council Directive 1/2013. In addition, these amendments are proposed on the grounds that legal opinion has also advised that when the UK withdraws from the European Union, British citizens resident in Ireland will no longer have a right to vote at, or stand as candidates in, elections to the European Parliament. In effect, the UK will be a third country and its citizens will no longer be citizens of the Union with all rights and entitlements consequent on that. In the event that the UK does not withdraw from the European Union, British citizens resident in the State will be treated in the same manner as other European Union citizens resident in the State in the context of the right to vote at, and stand in, elections to the European Parliament that are held in Ireland.

I am against these amendments and consider them to be quite serious in the substance of their aims of, in the event of Brexit taking place, removing the right of UK citizens to vote in, or stand for, European Parliament elections in this country. It would be the first time in the history of the State that the franchise is restricted as opposed to extended. History, generally speaking, has been of franchise being successively extended under pressure of struggle from below. We hope that continues to be the case, for example, with 16 year olds being given the right to vote. These amendments set a dangerous precedent in restricting franchise, in particular for UK citizens being carved out of the right to vote in European elections post Brexit.

Our starting point is that everybody who lives here and is affected by the decisions that are made here should have a right to vote in all elections that elect those who make the decisions that affect people's lives. That is our starting point and it is, obviously, not on the table here. From that point of view, the idea of removing the right to vote in European Parliament elections from British citizens represents a further step away from the position we should be in. It is an undemocratic and anti-democratic move.

Politically speaking, post Brexit, it should be the approach of the Irish Government and, for example, a future Jeremy Corbyn-led UK Government, unilaterally to grant rights to citizens of other countries. A Corbyn-led Government in Britain should unilaterally grant rights to EU citizens in the UK and, similarly, the Irish Government should unilaterally grant rights to British citizens here.

Otherwise, this has the potential to start a tit-for-tat process in restricting the rights of British citizens in Ireland and those of European citizens in Britain post Brexit which would, again, be a dangerous situation to get into. We think we should be democratic and continue with a situation where British citizens who live here continue to have the right to vote in European Parliament elections post Brexit. The 2016 census showed that UK citizens here are the second largest non-Irish national group, with the Polish community being the largest. UK citizens would easily be the largest minority group if one includes those who might also hold Irish citizenship.

The Government claims in its justification for this position that, legally, British citizens cannot continue to have the right to vote in European Parliament elections here. I do not think that is the case. The European Court of Justice has dealt with this issue before in Case C-145/04, Kingdom of Spain v. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This related to the right to vote in European Parliament elections for Commonwealth citizens residing in Gibraltar but who did not have citizenship of the Union. The court's summary judgment stated:

In the current state of Community law, the definition of the persons entitled to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament falls within the competence of each Member State in compliance with Community law. Articles 189 EC, 190 EC, 17 EC and 19 EC do not preclude the Member States from granting that right to vote and to stand as a candidate to certain persons who have close links to them, other than their own nationals or citizens of the Union resident in their territory.

[...] it does not follow that a Member State is prevented from granting the right to vote and to stand for election to certain persons who have a close link with it without however being nationals of that State or another Member State.

Clearly, UK citizens who live in Ireland have a close link with this country. The European Court of Justice has already ruled that we are not prevented from allowing them to continue to vote in European Parliament elections post Brexit, despite not being nationals of an EU member state.

I do not believe the Government's legal justification is well-grounded. The European Court of Justice has clearly ruled on this issue already. Accordingly, in that context, this is a political decision. We should make the political decision to continue to allow British citizens to vote here as opposed to moving to restrict the franchise in this way.

Will the Minister of State clarify that the approach being taken by the Government is consistent with that of other EU member states in this regard? I understand the logic of it but it is a shame.

Fianna Fáil, a pro-European Union party, regrets the fact that Britain is leaving the European Union. By leaving and not retaining EU citizenship, however, it makes sense that those who are not EU citizens should not vote for EU institutions. The irony is not lost on me that there is a party here which is anti-EU but which is arguing for citizens whose country voted to leave the EU to be allowed to vote for EU institutions. Deputy Paul Murphy and his colleagues supported the Brexit campaign. With that come consequences.

I want to ensure our approach is consistent with all other EU member states and that there are no unintended consequences with regard to EU citizens living outside of the EU and Irish citizens from the North residing here in particular. There is not a universal franchise for elections in this country. Not everyone resident in this country can vote in all elections and referenda. There are categories of voters. To claim that the starting point is that everyone should have a say on absolutely everything is not actually correct and not the legal case. Will the Minister of State clarify if our approach is consistent with the approach taken by other EU member states? Certain parties here welcomed Brexit. There is a contradiction in the arguments made by Deputy Paul Murphy and his colleagues for the retention of voting rights to an institution which the citizens in question do not actually support. Even at this late stage, however, I hope that, should Britain remain in the European Union, the changes made by this Bill will be suspended and the status quo will remain.

I am disappointed that my amendments were ruled out of order. I know that is not a matter for the Leas-Cheann Comhairle or the Minister of State. I will be challenging the decision, however. I do not accept the explanation I received from the Ceann Comhairle's office. We will be looking to bring forward these amendments, or a version of them, when the Bill is taken in the Seanad. As discussed at some length on Second Stage, whatever other Members may think of them, our amendments are a sincere and genuine attempt to deal with a significant issue, namely, that people in the North of Ireland voted against Brexit. Accordingly, we want to ensure they continue to have a voice in the European Parliament and their democratic view is respected.

Much of what is in the Bill is straightforward and technical in nature. It is just trying to deal with a difficult situation that is not the making of anybody in this jurisdiction or in this House. There is a possibility of an extension of Article 50. While people are currently talking about a short extension, it could be a lengthy extension. We know from previous crises in the European Union that it has a tendency to prolong crises and fudge crucial decisions if that is the easier of options.

From his discussions of these matters with his officials and the Attorney General, will the Minister of State explain what impact a longer extension of Article 50 could have on these amendments? To what extent could it result in a legal challenge from somebody, for example, who currently has an entitlement to stand as a candidate or vote in European elections prior to exit? If there is an extended period, strictly speaking, somebody from the North of Ireland, England or Scotland who does not yet have Irish citizenship could still have EU citizenship during that period.. Have the legal implications been properly teased out? It is important that those of us who understand the logic of some of these amendments are not seen to be supporting provisions which might have significant legal consequences in the context of a legal challenge.

We are really trying to tease out the legal advice in this regard. What kind of legal advice has the Minister of State received? We are dealing with European law and the unprecedented situation with our neighbouring country planning to leave the European Union. We need as much clarity on where the legal advice is coming from. Deputy Paul Murphy raised a case dealt with by the European Court of Justice. Will the Deputy clarify if that case related just to citizens of a European member state living in another member state? In the case of the United Kingdom, it would be a state which no longer belongs to the European Union.

Non-Irish and non-EU citizens can vote in local elections here. To what extent is it a matter that it cannot be allowed at certain levels but can be allowed at local level? Deputy Darragh O'Brien's question as to whether this will apply across the European Union is pertinent.

I have written down that last point. I will respond to the points raised by Deputy Paul Murphy first. The amendments are about treating British citizens the same as we treat those of other member state citizens in European Parliament elections. I understand there is a broader point that does not relate directly to these amendments about the status of British citizens having voting rights in the upcoming and future European Parliament elections. There is an historic aspect to this. There have been different time periods for British citizens than other EU citizens to get their nominations in order to contest those elections. The two amendments are essentially about that. I emphasise to the House that the reciprocal arrangements on voting rights for UK citizens in Ireland and Irish citizens in Britain in parliamentary elections still stand, regardless of this Bill or whatever happens over the coming weeks in relation to Brexit.

Deputy O'Sullivan's point is something that we do not say often enough. We have one of the most open systems. This is why I disagree with Deputy Paul Murphy's point that we should be democratic because we are very democratic when it comes to allowing people to vote in local elections. Very few countries have a system where people who are resident in a State can vote in local authority elections, which they will do at the end of May.

The case raised by several speakers was considered by the Attorney General. The advice is very strong that people who are citizens of a third country are not entitled to have a vote in a European Parliament election.

Commonwealth citizens in Britain have the right to vote.

I refer to the advice of the Attorney General in relation to the European Union and the European Parliament election.

In Britain Australian citizens may vote in elections.

That is fair enough. The Deputy will have his chance to speak later. I can only speak about the advice we have received. Many of the British citizens resident in Ireland have dual citizenship and many may be full Irish citizens at this stage. Obviously, in that case, their voting rights remain as is. However, the issue that we are discussing in these two amendments is primarily one of trying to level the playing field between British citizens and the citizens of other EU member States who are living in Ireland in relation to European Parliament elections.

With regard to the point made by Deputy Darragh O'Brien, this is absolutely consistent with the position of every other European member state on voting rights in the upcoming and future European Parliament elections. Should the UK opt to remain, British citizens resident in Ireland will be treated the same as every other citizen of an EU member State living in Ireland in relation to time periods for nomination and entitlement to vote under these amendments.

Deputy Ó Broin referred to something that we may hear more of in coming weeks in the event of an extension. Britain will be obliged to hold European Parliament elections under the treaties as they stand if there is to be a longer extension. That will mean that British citizens living here will be entitled to vote. In the event of a short extension, the new European Parliament does not officially take office until the first week in July. There is a body of opinion that in the event of a short extension British elections to the European Parliament would not be necessary. Then, in the Irish context, we would be able to elect our allocation of 13 MEPs.

Deputy O'Sullivan referred to the Attorney General's advice. It is very clear and in line with what other member states are doing. I do not have any great joy in it. Something which struck me when I first contested an election 20 years ago was the amount of British citizens who are living in south Kilkenny, in my case, but more generally around the country. I know many of these people will have Irish citizenship by now but it is a significant part of the electorate. Before I give any more anecdotal evidence, I will read the official departmental line. The right to vote in European elections is provided for in section 8 of the European Parliament Elections Act 1987 which states "every person whose name is on the register of European electors for the time being in force for a constituency, and no other person, shall be entitled to vote at the poll at a European election in that constituency." Legislative provisions in respect of the register of electors are provided for in Part 2 of the Electoral Act 1992 which in section 9 provides that a "person shall be entitled to be registered as a European elector in a constituency if he has reached the age of eighteen years and if, on the qualifying date, he was ordinarily resident in that constituency and was either (a) a citizen of Ireland, or (b) a national of a Member State other than the State." Accordingly, if the UK withdraws from the EU, British citizens resident in the State who do not hold dual citizenship with another member state will no longer have the right to vote or to stand as candidates in European Parliament elections. I wish there was an easier softer answer but having opted to leave the EU, the EU's institutions have the right to decide who is entitled to vote in the elections. That is partly what this legislation is about.

I call Deputy Darragh O'Brien.

Tá mé ceart go leor. Fuair mé mo fhreagra.

I wish to return to the legal point. I interrupted the Minister of State to make the point that Commonwealth citizens in Britain have the right to vote in European Parliament elections at the moment. A citizen of Australia living in Britain can vote in European Parliament elections, even though one is not a citizen of a member State. In order to explain the legal basis of that, they refer to the European Court of Justice's 2004 judgment on Gibraltar and Aruba, although neither of which are this scenario exactly. It noted:

as regards the possible existence of a clear link between citizenship of the Union and the right to vote and stand for election which requires that that right be always limited to citizens of the Union, no clear conclusion can be drawn in that regard from Articles 189 EC and 190 EC, relating to the European Parliament, which state that it is to consist of representatives of the peoples of the Member States. The term ‘peoples’, which is not defined, can have different meanings in the Member States and languages [...] no principle can be derived from them that citizens of the Union are the only persons entitled under all the other provisions.

That goes back to the fundamental political point. Deputy Darragh O'Brien is correct to say that the UK has voted to leave and they cannot have their cake and eat it. However, I am not talking about British people who live in Britain having the right to elect British representatives to the European Parliament, I am talking about British people who live in Ireland having the right to elect representatives from Ireland to the European Parliament. It seems to me that is a question of democracy. These are people who live in the EU, in Ireland, they are affected by the laws of the EU, on which the European Parliament plays some, relatively limited, unfortunately, role in crafting. Therefore, they should continue to have the right to have an input into that process by having the right to stand for election and having the right to vote in European elections. That is where the question of democracy comes in. We should not discriminate against any non-EU citizens in terms of not having the right to vote in European Parliament elections. There seems to be no clear legal basis for doing so and in this particular case the situation arises that if we were not to make these amendments and the UK did exit, then British citizens living in Ireland would continue to have the right to vote in European elections, which I think would be a good thing. Therefore, I oppose the amendments. Regarding the approach that says they should not have voted to leave and that these are the consequences, they do not have to be the consequences. We can continue to say that British citizens who live in Ireland have the right to vote in European elections. That would be a good thing to do and what we should be in favour of in terms of the rights of Irish and other EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit.

In the context of the Minister's response to the question on dual citizenship and British people who have taken out Irish citizenship, if one is entitled to vote only in local elections, there will be an "L" besides one's name on the register. There might be a lot of people on the register who either have dual citizenship or have recently taken out Irish citizenship but may not realise they do not have the right to vote in the European elections. Is the Department aware of this and will these people be informed to the effect that they may lose out if they do not inform the people who keep the register of their Irish or dual citizenship?

Do people in this category have to have a passport or do they simply have to have the right to citizenship? In the strict legal sense, does one have to go to the expense of getting a passport to be able to claim the franchise or is an entitlement to Irish citizenship sufficient?

A passport is generally accepted as the definitive document, but for those who have gone through the recent citizenship ceremonies and have the documentation that accompanies them, that documentation is of a similar status.

I understand where Deputy Paul Murphy is coming from with his suggestion that this is anti-democratic but I disagree with him completely. We have always adopted the position that citizenship is linked to certain entitlements. To the people who voted to remain, we are not saying "Tough luck, the majority voted the other way", but we cannot and should not dilute the entitlements of citizenship by giving complete and open access to the elections to the European Parliament. We allow this at local election level because a resident in any ward or district of a local authority has skin in the game as regards the footpaths, the lights, the roads etc. If international decisions are made that are beyond somebody's control, there has to be some sort of knock-on effect.

The Attorney General considered the cases to which the Deputy referred and we have had a lot of discussion about this in the past couple of weeks. Legal advice was sought prior to the development of the Bill, which concluded that while it might be possible for a member state to allow citizens of third countries resident in their territories to vote in European Parliament elections, the better and more prudent view is that there exists a minimum requirement to hold European Union citizenship as a precondition to vote at, and stand in, European elections. Further legal advice was sought while the Bill was being drafted and the issue was discussed in many different fora outside this House. The opinion of counsel was that any proposal to enfranchise British citizens resident in Ireland after withdrawal for the purposes of the European elections would be inconsistent with the law of the European Union. This is the Government position and it is one with which I fully agree.

I take Deputy O'Sullivan's point. The process of reforming the register has begun and we are looking at the issue of public information. People can change their status on the register up to the supplementary register and there may be a category of people, identified by the Deputy and referred to by other Deputies, who have taken out Irish citizenship since the Brexit vote, some more famously than others. They need to be aware of the "L" and the "E" in the side columns determining in which categories of election they can vote. We will do some work to promote the need to check the register to see that the relevant letter is opposite their names to entitle them to vote.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 72; Níl, 26; Staon, 0.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Paul Murphy.
Amendment declared carried.
Section 2 agreed to.
NEW SECTIONS

Amendments Nos. 2 and 5 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 3, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 11 of Principal Act

3. Section 11 of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) in paragraph (d) of subsection (2), by the deletion of “or the United Kingdom”,

(b) in subsection (3), by the deletion of “or the United Kingdom”,

(c) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (4):

“(4) (a) A person who is elected under this Act to be a representative in the Parliament, and who when so elected, holds office as—

(i) the Attorney General,

(ii) the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Dáil or the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Seanad, or

(iii) a Minister of State,

shall, on such election and no later than taking up his or her seat in the Parliament, on the date specified by the Parliament for the taking up of such seats, cease to hold that office.

(b) A person who pursuant to section 19 of this Act is to be regarded as having been elected to be a representative in the Parliament or when he or she commences to be so regarded holds office as—

(i) the Attorney General,

(ii) the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Dáil or the Chairman or Deputy Chairman of the Seanad, or

(iii) a Minister of State,

shall on being regarded as having being so elected, on the day on which he or she commences to be so regarded, and no later than taking up his or her seat in the Parliament, on the date specified by the Parliament for the taking up of such seats, cease to hold that office.",

and

(d) in subsection 4A—

(i) by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (a):

“(a) A person who is elected under this Act to be a representative in the Parliament, and who, when so elected, is a member of either House of the Oireachtas, shall on such election and no later than taking up his or her seat in the Parliament, on the date specified by the Parliament for the taking up of such seats, cease to be a member of the House of the Oireachtas concerned.",

and

(ii) by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (b):

“(b) A person who pursuant to section 19 of this Act is to be regarded as having been elected to be a representative in the Parliament or when he or she commences to be so regarded, and no later than taking up his or her seat in the Parliament, on the date specified by the Parliament for the taking up of such seats, shall cease to be a member of the House of the Oireachtas concerned.".".

Like amendments Nos. 1 and 4, amendments Nos. 2 and 5 also remove a number of explicit references to the United Kingdom and British citizens from the European Parliament Elections Act 1997. They include amendments to section 11 and rules 88, 92 and 94 of the Second Schedule to the European Parliament Elections Act 1997 to provide contingency arrangements in the event of a delay in the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

The amendments to section 11(4) of the principal Act are proposed to address the timing of the application of the dual mandate provisions to certain officeholders whose holding of such offices is deemed to be incompatible with membership of the European Parliament. In particular, under section 11(4), certain prescribed officeholders must cease to hold their existing offices when they are deemed to be elected to the European Parliament. This takes place at the end of the relevant count following the election. The officeholders who may be affected are Ministers of State, Chair or Deputy Chair of the Dáil, Chair or Deputy Chair of the Seanad, Members of the Oireachtas or the Attorney General.

In a scenario where there is a delay in the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the provisions of Article 3(2) of the European Council Decision (EU) 2018/937 of 28 June 2018 establishing the composition of the European Parliament will apply. In practical terms, this means that two MEPs deemed to be elected out of the 13 deemed to be elected may not take up office in the European Parliament until the UK has exited the EU. Accordingly, given the uncertainty surrounding the timing of when these two MEP designates may be allowed to take up office, it is proposed to amend the Act to provide that these prescribed officeholders would not have to cease holding their existing offices until such time as they take up their seats in the European Parliament. It should be noted that the Council decision requires that the additional MEPs across the 14 member states affected would all take up their seats simultaneously when the UK's withdrawal becomes legally effective. This amendment will ensure that serving Members of the Oireachtas will not have to resign their seats until such time as they take up their seats in the new European Parliament, if they choose to stand for that election, are deemed to be elected and are one of the two MEPs designated who may not take up their seats on 2 July 2019 when the new European Parliament is constituted.

In the event of a delay in the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, it is proposed that the two Members who would not take up their seats immediately would be the last person elected in the constituency of South and the last person elected in the constituency of Dublin. The reason for this approach is because it was these two constituencies that were allocated additional seats in the review carried out by the independent constituency committee established last year to recommend how the increased numbers of Irish MEPs and their seats, which are increasing from 11 to 13 in the next term, should be distributed between constituencies. It should be noted that in the event that the last remaining candidates in the constituencies of Dublin and South are not in a position to take up their seats due to a delay in the UK's exit from the EU, the principle of equality of representation within these two constituencies, which underpinned the recommendations of the committee established last year to review the European Parliament constituencies, would be affected for the duration of any delay. Representation in the Dublin constituency would be 449,120 people per MEP. That is a variance of plus 3.7% from the national average. Representation in South would be 472,747 persons per MEP, which is a variance of plus 9.2% from the national average. The difference between the lowest variance, which would be Midlands–North-West at minus 12%, and the highest variance in South at 9.21% would be 21.23%. While this would be the highest on record, variances of in and around 20% were recommended by the constituency committees in 1977, 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2007, respectively. However, it is unavoidable and temporary given the use of sub-national multi-seat constituencies for the holding of elections to the European Parliament in Ireland. This issue will be resolved when the UK exits the EU and that becomes legally effective.

To ascertain the last persons deemed to be elected in Dublin and South, rule 88 of the Second Schedule of the European Parliament Elections Act 1997 makes provision for the election of the last remaining candidates in a European constituency. Where a delayed withdrawal occurs, it is proposed to amend rule 88 to allow for the transfer of votes to continue for the last remaining candidates in the Dublin and South constituencies until such time as the final candidates in these constituencies are deemed to be elected. This will ensure that the last remaining candidates will each have a total number of votes that can be used to inform which candidate in each of the two constituencies will not take up his or her seat in the event that the withdrawal of the UK from the Union is deferred post the holding of elections on the last weekend in May.

The amendment to rule 92 complements the amendment to Rule 88 in that it provides that the returning officers in Dublin and South will publicly announce the order of election in respect of the last remaining candidates deemed to be elected in each of those constituencies. This will ensure that the order of election in respect of the final candidate in each of the constituencies of Dublin and South is clear and unambiguous, which will facilitate the chief returning officer in making his or her return under rule 92 of the European Parliament Elections Act on the take up of seats in those constituencies in the event that the withdrawal of the UK from the Union is deferred post the holding of elections in May.

The amendments to rule 94 will provide for the deferral of the last candidates to be elected in the Dublin and South constituencies from taking up their seats in 2019-2024 European Parliament until such time as a date for the additional seats allocated to a number of member states, including Ireland, to be taken up is established. It is proposed that the implementation of the amendments to section 11 of the European Parliament Elections Act 1997 and rules 88, 92 and 94 of the Second Schedule to that Act will be subject to a commencement order. When the timing of the UK's withdrawal from the Union is confirmed, it will become clearer whether there will be a need to implement these provisions in the Bill.

I suggest that the Minister of State circulates his notes because this is a crucially important amendment. The reason I say this is because it is important for electors in these constituencies who are going to vote on 24 May to understand exactly what they are voting for and the status of the MEPs they elect. I would have thought that this was unprecedented. I understand the reason for it and I support it, but it is unprecedented and we must be very clear with the electorate when it is voting as to what it means, particularly in Dublin and South, so I would not take this for granted or have a flippant attitude towards it. A lot of work needs to be done on this.

Has work been done at EU level by the Minister of State or the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade? What is deemed to be the delay period? The elections will take place on 24 May. If a delay to Article 50 is sought by the UK and granted by the EU that goes on after 1 July, what will happen to the fourth MEP elected in Dublin or the fifth MEP elected in South - MEP designates? I take it that if the UK leaves before 1 July, they will take up their seats as normal but if the UK does not leave on 29 March, the electorate will be voting in the European elections knowing that the people for whom it is voting will not take up their seats immediately. What period of time has the EU given for a delay to be an extensive delay? If it is over a year, does the UK then hold European elections? What is that timeframe? If an extension is sought and the UK holds European elections and puts candidates forward, I take it we will still have our elections based on 13 seats and will still have a fourth MEP in Dublin and a fifth MEP in South. That needs to be clarified because if, for argument's sake, the extension runs for a year and the UK holds European elections, will those British MEPs take their seats for that year?

Do our MEPs-designate, for want of a better phrase, who are deemed elected just stay in abeyance and basically in limbo for a year? What is the timeframe? In the intervening period while Article 50 is revoked, what happens with these two MEPs? What happens if there is a second referendum?

I do not expect the Minister of State to have all the answers. I take it these MEPs are only MEPs-designate. If everything happens as we think it will happen and there is a short extension and Britain then leaves, what role will those MEPs have in the intervening period? How do we ensure the people who voted for them are not disenfranchised? Will they still have representative powers in the sense they will still be entitled to an EU office and staff, and to have their administration done from within the European Parliament? Will they be entitled to ask questions, although perhaps not on the floor of the Parliament? Will they have staff to provide administrative back-up? Will they be paid and for how long?

I fully understand the need for this. It is unfortunate and it is a consequence of Britain leaving the EU, but it is right and proper that the seats be reapportioned among member states. I would like to get under the bonnet of this because it will become part of the debate in the election campaign. We want to make sure that in Ireland South, for example, a distinction is not made between the top four MEPs elected and the fifth, and a hierarchy is not created. We have to ensure the people who elect that fifth MEP, even though the person is MEP-designate for a period, still have some representation. The same goes for my own county and city of Dublin, in that should Britain seek an extension, the question arises as to what role the MEP-designate would have in the intervening period before taking up the seat.

I want to go through a number of questions in a similar vein. First, I want to go back to the question I asked regarding citizenship. I understand a passport is the most obvious example of citizenship but it is not the only one. This is quite an important point. If this Bill goes through, and if somebody is resident in the State before the European elections and they do not have a passport but have an entitlement to Irish citizenship, will they be entitled to vote? For example, what will be the position regarding someone of a Unionist persuasion living in the South who has a British passport and does not want an Irish passport but who has the entitlement to vote? I would like the Minister of State to tease that out in practical terms.

Second, on the dual mandate, if a Member is elected and is unfortunate enough to be the final candidate elected in Dublin or Ireland South, according to the Minister of State, he or she would remain a Member of this House but he or she would also have a subsidiary status as a substitute MEP. Do we know, for example, what the European Parliament and the European Council intend to allow those substitute MEPs to have by way of remuneration, offices, attendance at Parliament and so on? I am not raising a problem with that but the more clarity we have, the better.

With respect to the treatment of the last elected candidates in Dublin and Ireland South, proportional representation is a sophisticated system and voters come to it with a sophisticated understanding of how the preferences operate. If it is a three-seater and the quota is set at X, people have an understanding and think tactically about how they vote in the context of the three people they would most like to be elected. If the quota is different in a four-seater and they can elect four people, voters think tactically about this, sometimes consciously, sometimes less so. I am not questioning the common sense logic of what the Minister of State has done because it seems to be the common sense answer to a problem none of us wants. However, from a legal point of view, for example, can the Minister of State satisfy the House that the Attorney General believes this is the most robust and legally sound way of doing this? Could we have a situation where somebody who gets the fourth seat in Ireland South or Dublin and, for example, is subject to a lengthy period of secondary status because of an extended extension of Article 50, launches a legal challenge? I am just trying to tease out the possibilities. In the event that we have an extension of Article 50 and then a second referendum - and there is increased talk of a second referendum in Britain following the recent announcement by Jeremy Corbyn - could somebody be elected, hold that secondary status for a period, and then be deemed unelected because Britain has voted to return to the EU? Could the State be subject to a legal challenge by that candidate? Have those eventualities been thought through or legally proofed with the Attorney General?

It is for us to be satisfied If the Minister of State is asking us to support this Bill, we have to be fully satisfied that the Government has thought through and worked through all of the different possibilities. I may come back in depending on the answers to those questions.

The more we go into this, the more one would want to be a learned Jesuit to figure it all out and I am certainly not a learned Jesuit, for a whole lot of different reasons. My questions are somewhat similar to the others. For the people who are in the unfortunate position of being in the cold storage seats in Dublin or in Ireland South, there is provision as to what will happen to them if they are the Attorney General, on an Oireachtas committee or a Minister, and so on. However, what about the ordinary citizen who has been working in a job and gets elected to the European Parliament and, therefore, does not have a job to return to if they have left it, or may not be able to go back to their job on a temporary basis because they might at any point become a Member of the European Parliament? Where do they stand? There is the question, which I raised on Second Stage and which Deputy Darragh O'Brien has just raised, of whether they get paid, have an office or have a job to do, even though they are not taking their seats in the Parliament. It is a question for people who are thinking of running in the European elections in either of those constituencies and we need to get as much clarity as possible. We all hope it will not come to that but it may well do, even more so if there is a second referendum in the United Kingdom, which I would like to see, as most of us would.

My second question relates to the variance to which the Minister of State referred in his contribution, that is, the 21% variance between Ireland Midlands-North-West and Ireland South, and whether there is an issue of enfranchisement for the people who live in Ireland South as opposed to those who live in Ireland Midlands-North-West. There may be a legal issue in respect of adequate representation in the European Parliament.

These are difficult questions and there is a lot of what-iffery about it. Nevertheless, if people are thinking of running in the European elections in either of those constituencies, they will have to ask themselves those questions. If they realistically do not think they are going to be in the top couple of seats - and anyone in a party like mine would not expect to be, although it might be different for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael as they may run two or three candidates - then it is a question for people who are considering running. It is also a question for the electorate to know whether we will have the normal level of representation we would expect for our population.

Perhaps the Minister of State will bring clarity to those questions.

I will try my best, although some of them are beyond my competence. In regard to the points made by Deputy Darragh O'Brien on circulating the memorandum, I have no problem in doing that. I will ask my private secretary to circulate it to the committee membership because it is very involved. Given all of us are practising politicians, the minutiae of how elections take place, as well as being fascinating, are important and could have profound consequences.

On the question of the status of the cold storage MEPs, as we called them on Second Stage - the two in Ireland South and Dublin - that is ultimately a matter for decision by the European Parliament. We expect that, in advance of the European elections, their status will be spelled out because this is an issue in 14 member states, not just in Ireland. At the moment, no such agreement or provision has been made.

It would be better if I had the final decision. I am led to believe, however, by those involved in some of these discussions at European level that we will have that position spelt out in advance of the elections to the European Parliament. Deputy O’Brien asked me how long the delay will be.

My question was on the timeframe.

Wiser heads than mine do not know if there will be a delay and how long it will be. I understand the broader point he is making, however, which concerns the need not to create two categories of MEP. I do not think there is a danger of doing that. There is a difference between the Irish and European parliamentary systems. In an Irish context, representatives are elected on the day the votes are counted, while in the European Parliament, an MEP is elected the day the seat is taken up and not on the day the votes are counted. Seats will be taken up in the new European Parliament in the first week of July. Some of the points we have been making may be academic if an agreement is reached, if no agreement is reached or if a minor extension is agreed.

There is a bigger problem if there is a longer extension. Britain will then be required to hold elections for the European Parliament. The question Deputy O’Brien raised concerning Article 50 will also then be an issue. It is arising now more in the context of a second referendum being held rather than revocation. If Article 50 is revoked and Britain remains part of the EU, then the European Parliament would have to look again at how it would be composed. We can only deal with the recommendations of the committee we set up to look at boundaries for European and Dáil elections. That report is clear that, because of our geographically based system, we should allocate the seats in the manner suggested by the committee. The Attorney General, along with many others, has been consulted at every stage of the process. That issue was raised by Deputy Ó Broin. I may be doing the Attorney General an injustice, but this method is seen as the least worst option. I say that in the sense that it is an attempt at marrying our geographic constituency system with the prospect of having two additional seats sometime in the future.

These are completely uncharted waters. It will be a nice niche area for historians in future who may be examining when legislation such as this was considered. The Attorney General, however, is clear and the advice we have is also clear. This is the best solution for the Irish electoral system. The boundary committee that was established did not recommend a 13-seat national constituency. That might, indeed, have been a better way of overcoming the proportionality question. That would, though, involve turning our electoral system, as we have known it since the foundation of the State and indeed before that, completely on its head.

Regarding the questions raised by many of the Members, we await a decision by the European Parliament on the status of these MEPs. That includes pay, but that is only one aspect. Members have also made points regarding the ability of an MEP-designate to have an office and participate in the Parliament in some way, shape or form. That is a legitimate question but there is no clear answer yet. We expect to have one well in advance of the election. On Deputy Jan O’Sullivan’s point about non-officeholders, for legislative reasons we are dealing with our existing provisions regarding the dual mandate and, in particular, in these amendments. We cannot designate for people who are privately employed. It is a legitimate issue to raise. We need to get clarity, at the level of the European Parliament and European institutions, as to the status of the cold storage MEPs.

I asked a question about the citizenship issue.

Yes, I took note of that. The registration authorities are the local authorities. One of the officials here reminded me about his elderly relative who does not have a passport. Once a person can establish that he or she has an entitlement to vote, he or she will be entitled to vote in the elections to the European Parliament. That is not dependent on having a passport. We use passports now because they are acceptable documents to prove certain entitlements.

Such as birth certificates.

Equally, however, for citizens who have never held a passport, other documents, such as birth certificates, will be accepted by the authorities and all documents will be invalid.

I will follow up slightly later on the Minister of State’s answer to Deputy Ó Broin. It is important to establish the status of what the Minister of State called the cold storage MEPs. We might come up with a better description, such as "deemed elected MEPs". That status has not yet been decided among the 14 member states affected. Do we have any idea of a timeframe for the decision on that status? It must be done before the European elections are held. The Minister of State may have some idea as to the timeframe or what the plans are for that agreement to be reached. It is important to know that. I will not go over the questions the Minister of State has answered as best he can. Where is the cut-off for the length of the extension granted to the UK? If the extension is longer than six months or a year, when will Britain actually have to hold European elections under the current EU treaties? Is it if the extension goes past 1 July? Must elections then be held? That is the answer I am seeking.

I am also curious about the answer the Minister of State gave to Deputy Ó Broin. The Minister of State referred to anyone with an entitlement to citizenship, but not holding it, having a right to vote. I think that is the answer the Minister of State has given and I do not think that is correct. I refer to a person with an entitlement to vote or an entitlement to citizenship. Taking what we are doing in this Bill as an example, let us consider a British citizen who has lived in Ireland for more than five years or is married to an Irish citizen. That person would have an entitlement to apply for citizenship. The Minister of State’s answer is, however, incorrect because that person would not have an entitlement to vote. Even though a person may have an entitlement to citizenship, that does not mean that he or she actually has citizenship. I do not think the example of someone having a passport is relevant this context. That is a separate issue and different from an Irish citizen who has a vote but not a passport. I would like the Minister of State to clarify that issue. The answer he gave suggests to me that a British citizen or subject who has been living here for more than five years or is married to an Irish citizen is, by extension, allowed to vote, even though he or she has not applied for Irish citizenship and, through that, European citizenship.

I will follow up on Deputy O’Brien's point for clarity. I think we are talking about two different groups of people, but we need clarity on both. As I understand it, several categories of people have an automatic entitlement to citizenship. They include people born on the island of Ireland before 2004-----

-----people with relatives and people who may be British citizens but who are from the North of Ireland. They do not have to apply for naturalisation. They just have to apply for the passport. I take it the Minister of State's answer was in respect of that category. Will he confirm that is the case? On the other hand, Deputy O’Brien is referring to a category of people who do not have an automatic entitlement as a result of marriage or length of time living in the country. Those people can apply for naturalisation. I would welcome clarification from the Minister of State on this issue, because it is important.

We have already asked the European Parliament and European institutions about when that information will be available. It will be after the European Council meeting on 22 March and 23 March. That is the possible timeframe but nothing is definitive yet. The language concerning citizenship is archaic and unusual. The phrase used is “the right to assert citizenship”. I did not mention citizenship specifically, because that would bring us back to the passports and other documents. If a person can assert his or her citizenship, and not his or her right to citizenship, then that person is entitled to vote. That is the best answer I have for that question.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 3, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

"Amendment of section 15 of Principal Act

3. Section 15 of the Principal Act is amended—

(a) by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (3):

"(3) Subject to subsection (4), an area specified in the Third Schedule shall be taken to be that area as constituted on 1 September 2018.",

and

(b) by the insertion of the following subsection after subsection (3):

"(4) Sections 28 and 29 of the Local Government Act 2019 shall apply for the purposes of the holding of European elections in the year 2019 as they apply for the purposes of the holding of local elections in that year, subject to the following modifications in section 28—

(a) by the substitution of 'European' for 'local government' in paragraph (b) of subsection (1),

(b) by the substitution of 'European' for 'local government' in subsection (2), and

(c) by the substitution of ['this Act' for ‘Part 4 of the Principal Act’ in subsection (3).".".

The purpose of this amendment is to replace the existing section 3 with a revised version that includes additional provisions in respect of the holding of elections in Cork. These provisions are necessary due to the boundary change between the city and the county. We may have thought we were finished with that matter.

We are very lucky that Galway was not included.

For the purposes of holding elections to the European Parliament later this year, the cities and counties listed in the Third Schedule should be those that were in existence on 1 September 2018, when the European Parliament constituency committee was completing its report. The Local Government Act 2019, which was enacted on 31 January last, subsequently provided for a significant extension to the boundary of Cork city. While the overall outcome of the European Parliament election in the South constituency will not be affected by this change, the European Parliament elections in Ireland are administered by local authorities based within the wider European Parliament constituency and are jointly held with the local elections. The Cork city sheriff is the local returning officer for the city, while the county sheriff is the local returning officer for County Cork. For the purposes of the efficient administration of the elections, it is considered necessary to make provision for the changes to the boundary between Cork city and county.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 3 deleted.
SECTION 4

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 3, after line 27, to insert the following:

"(i) by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (c) of paragraph (1):

"(c) a form of statement indicating whether the candidate is—

(i) a citizen of Ireland, or

(ii) a national of a Member State, other than the State, and".".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 5, to delete lines 12 to 19 and substitute the following:

"(c) in rule 6, by the deletion in paragraph (1), of "or the United Kingdom",

(d) in rule 10—

(i) in paragraph (2), by the deletion of "or the United Kingdom", and

(ii) in paragraph (3), by the deletion of "or a British citizen",

(e) in rule 18, by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (b) of paragraph (1):

"(b) a form of statement indicating whether a person nominated by entry thereon as a replacement candidate is—

(i) a citizen of Ireland, or

(ii) a national of a Member State other than the State,

and",

(f) in rule 19, by the deletion in paragraph (2), of "or the United Kingdom",

(g) in rule 50, by the substitution of the following subparagraph for subparagraph (d) of paragraph (2):

"(d) the name of each candidate’s political party, if any, or, if appropriate, the expression 'Non-Party' shall be printed in large capitals, and the name of each candidate’s political group or European political party, if any, shall be printed in ordinary characters.",

(h) in rule 88—

(i) in paragraph (1), by the substitution of "Subject to paragraph (4), when" for "When",

(ii) in paragraph (1A), by the substitution of "Subject to paragraph (4), when" for "When", and

(iii) by the insertion of the following paragraphs after paragraph (3):

"(4) For the purpose of the European elections held in the year 2019—

(a) paragraph (1A) shall not apply in the constituencies of Dublin and South as specified in the Third Schedule, and

(b) subject to paragraph (5), when all vacancies have been filled in the constituencies of Dublin and South as specified in the Third Schedule, the order in which candidates are deemed to be elected in each such constituency shall be—

(i) where a candidate is deemed to be elected at the end of a count, that candidate shall be deemed to be elected before a candidate deemed to be elected at a subsequent count,

(ii) where two or more candidates are deemed to be elected at the end of a count, the candidate with the greater number of votes credited at the end of that count shall be deemed to be elected before a candidate with a lower number of votes credited at the end of that count.

(5) If, at the end of a count, two or more candidates in the constituencies of Dublin and South as specified in the Third Schedule have each the same number of votes—

(a) regard shall be had to the number of original votes credited to each candidate, and the candidate with a greater number of original votes shall be deemed to be elected before a candidate with a lower number of original votes credited,

(b) where the numbers of the original votes are equal, regard shall be had to the total numbers of votes credited to each candidate at the first count at which they had an unequal number of votes and the candidate with a greater number of votes credited at that count shall be deemed to be elected before a candidate with a lower number of votes credited at that count, or

(c) where the numbers of votes credited to each candidate is equal at all counts, the returning officer shall determine by lot the order in which the candidates are deemed to be elected.

(6) In this rule and without prejudice to rule 82, "determine by lot" means determine in accordance with the following directions, namely, the names of each candidate concerned having been written on similar slips of paper, and the slips having been folded so as to prevent identification and mixed and drawn at random, each candidate shall be deemed to be elected in the order in which his or her name is drawn.",

(i) in rule 92, by the insertion of the following paragraph after paragraph (3):

"(4) Notwithstanding paragraph (3), for the purpose of the European elections held in the year 2019, the returning officer for the constituency of Dublin and the returning officer for the constituency of South shall give public notice of the last candidate deemed to be elected, in accordance with rule 88, in each said constituency. The returning officer for the constituency of Dublin and the returning officer for the constituency of South shall send a copy of the said notice to the Minister, the chief returning officer, Clerk of the Dáil (or, where he or she is unable through illness, absence or other cause to fulfil his or her duties or where there is a vacancy in the office of Clerk of Dáil Éireann, the Clerk-Assistant of Dáil Éireann) and to each person elected.",

(j) the substitution of the following rule for rule 94:

"94. (1) The chief returning officer shall, as soon as may be after receipt of the return referred to in rule 92 from each returning officer, make a return, in the form directed by the Minister, to the Parliament of the persons elected in the State to be representatives in the Parliament.

(2) For the purpose of the European elections held in the year 2019, the return made by the chief returning officer under paragraph (1) shall declare that the last candidate deemed to be elected, as set out in the public notice given in accordance with rule 92, in each of the constituencies of Dublin and South as specified in the Third Schedule, shall not take up their seats in the European Parliament until such time as a date has been specified by the Parliament for the taking up of such seats.",

and

(k) in rule 96, by the deletion in subparagraph (bb) of paragraph (1), of “or the United Kingdom".".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 5

Amendments Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, are out of order.

Amendments Nos. 6 to 8, inclusive, not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 5 stand part of the Bill."

I am opposing this section.

Question put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 66; Níl, 25; Staon, 1.

  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Staon

  • Murphy, Paul.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tony McLoughlin and Seán Kyne; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Question declared carried.
Section 6 agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 6, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

“Short title, collective citations, construction and commencement

7. (1) This Act may be cited as the European Parliament Elections (Amendment) Act 2019.

(2) The European Parliament Elections Acts 1992 to 2014 and this Act (other than section 6) may be cited together as the European Parliament Elections Acts 1992 to 2019 and shall be construed together as one.

(3) The Electoral Acts 1992 to 2018 and section 6 may be cited together as the Electoral Acts 1992 to 2019 and shall be construed together as one.

(4) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government may appoint by order or orders either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or different provisions.”.

This amendment introduces a commencement provision by way of a new sub-section (4) to provide for different commencement dates for the Bill's provisions should the need arise. This provision is being proposed given the contingency provisions in the Bill, which relate to the impact of any delay in the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. In the event that the UK legally withdraws from the Union on 29 March, irrespective of whether a withdrawal agreement is or is not in place, all 13 seats allocated to Ireland under the Council decision will be filled-----

I am sorry, Minister. Will Members show the Minister of State respect by keeping silence in the Chamber, please?

All 13 seats allocated to Ireland will be filled following the European elections if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, either with or without a deal, on 29 March next. In this scenario, the amendments to the detailed count and notification rules will not require implementation.

In addition, the amendments to section 11 of the European Parliament Act 1997 in respect of the prohibition of the holding of dual mandate for certain officeholders, that is, Members of the Oireachtas and those others outlined, would no longer need to be implemented. Accordingly, the enactment of these provisions will be subject to a commencement order should the need arise when the position becomes clearer.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 7 deleted.
Title agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Report Stage?

Is that agreed?

It is not agreed.

Question put: "That Report Stage be taken now."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 61; Níl, 25; Staon, 0.

  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tony McLoughlin and Seán Kyne; Níl, Deputies Eoin Ó Broin and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Question declared carried.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.

A message shall be sent to the Seanad acquainting it accordingly.