I move amendment No. 1:
In page 2, before section 2 to insert the following new section:
"2.—Nothing in this Act shall affect the jurisdiction or powers heretofore vested in the Courts established by law pursuant to Article 34 of the Constitution in any matter of domestic law.".
This amendment is a vital part of the protection that is needed to ensure that nothing that can happen as a result of this Bill will overrule our protection under section 34 of the Constitution. Section 34 of the Constitution is explicit. Section 2 reads:
Reference to the Assembly of the European Communities in any Act passed or Statutory Instrument made before the commencement of this Act shall be construed as references to the European Parliament.
This would appear to suggest that the Constitution can be overridden by section 2 of this Act. If that is the intention of the Government, let the Government say that this is the intention. Article 34 is quite specific about the jurisdiction of courts:
Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution, and, save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law, shall be administered in public.
Tri Gaeilge, Airteagal 34:
Is i gcúirteanna a bhunaítear le dlí agus ag breithiúna a cheaptar ar an modh atá leagtha amach sa Bhunreacht seo a riarfar ceart, agus is go poiblí a dhéanfar sin ach amháin sna cásanna speisialta teoranta sin a ordófar le dlí.
The first section of section 34 is quite specific in that it says justice shall be administered in courts. I presume this means that section 2 is not legitimate. Article 34 2 reads:
The Courts shall comprise Courts of First Instance and a Court of Final Appeal.
Section 2 of this Act says that references to the Assembly of the European Communities in any Act — it does not say any Irish Act; it does not say any British Act — passed or Statutory Instrument made before the commencement of this Act shall be construed as references to the European Parliament. This would appear to give preference to the European Parliament over the Constitution. That is not what we require in out debate on the European Communities (Amendment) Bill, 1986. The Irish section reads:
Beidh ar na cúirteanna sin Cúirteanna Céadchéime agus Cúirt Achomhairc Dheiridh.
In other words, the Irish courts shall be the particular deliberating courts.
Section 2 of this Act would appear to override Article 34 1º of the Constitution:
The Court of First Instance shall include a High Court invested with full original jurisdiction in and power to determine all matters and questions whether of law or fact, civil or criminal.
Section 2 states quite specifically:
shall be construed as references to the European Parliament.
There is no doubt in my mind that the inference in section 2 is that any references will override our constitutional rights under Section 34 of the Constituion. When mention is made of First Instance and of the High Court it is important that the Irish version, the first language, has to be taken:
Beidh ar na Cúirteanna Céadchéime sin Ard-Chúirt ag a mbeidh lándlínse bhunaidh, agus cumhacht, chun breith a thabhairt, i ngach ní agus ceist dlí nó fíorais cibé sibhialta nó coiriúil siad.
It states quite specifically in the Irish language whether they be civil or not. I would ask the Minister to give me an answer as to where section 2 of this Bill can be construed in any way other than in direct contravention of Article 34 of the Constitution.