Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil

Before we proceed to Leaders' Questions, I wish to make a brief statement concerning the correspondence between the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Frank Clarke, and Mr. Justice Séamus Woulfe which has been the subject of commentary in the media and elsewhere since its release yesterday. As Members will be aware, it is a long-established ruling of this House that members of the Judiciary are independent, by virtue of the Constitution, and may not be criticised or have their rulings referred to in the House, except on foot of a substantive motion. Without prejudice to how this matter may proceed, I must point out that Members of this House are in a different position from others in the context of commentary insofar as they may ultimately have to adjudicate on the matter in accordance with the Constitution, legislation and Standing Orders. Any such adjudication must be carried out in a manner that conforms with the principles of basic fairness of procedures and the requirements of natural and constitutional justice. It is crucial, therefore, that Members do not comment on the matter, either on the floor of the House or elsewhere, in such a way as could give rise to a perception of bias because this could act as a serious impediment to their ability to discharge their important constitutional functions, if so required, in the future. Accordingly, I ask Members to exercise the utmost care in any comments they may make on the correspondence and the issues arising and I request their full co-operation in this matter.