This is a Seanad Bill which has been amended by the Dáil. In accordance with Standing Order 113, it is deemed to have passed its First, Second and Third Stages in the Seanad and is placed on the Order Paper for Report Stage. On the question "That the Bill be received for final consideration", the Minister may explain the purpose of the amendments made by the Dáil. This is looked upon as the report of the Dáil amendments to the Seanad. The only matters, therefore, which may be discussed are the amendments made by the Dáil. For Senators' convenience, I have arranged for the printing and circulation of the amendments. Senators may speak only once on Report Stage.
Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill 2009 [Seanad Bill amended by the Dáil]: Report and Final Stages.
The Bill was subject to a minor technical amendment in the course of its passage through the Dáil. The amendment was necessary to take account of the fact the Official Languages Act 2003 was passed in both Irish and English. The Act was mentioned in the Schedule as it contains a reference to the Houses of the Oireachtas which must now be changed to the Houses of the Oireachtas Service. Under the Bill as presented, however, only the English text of the Official Languages Act would have been altered. This would have brought about an unintended difference between the English and Irish texts of the Act and the amendment rectified this by amending both the English and Irish texts. The amendment raises no substantive issues in relation to the Bill as previously passed by this House and I commend the Bill, as amended, to the House.
I examined the Bill and did not quite understand the need for this so the Minister of State explained it well.
In the Constitution if there is a doubt about the meaning of words, the Irish language takes precedence. When I was still in my 20s, I ended up in the Supreme Court with a case against me to do with the word "discrimination". I argued the law being used against me had used the word "discrimination" and the State argued that "discriminate" could only mean "discriminate against" and not "discriminate in favour of". It turned out the word used in Irish was "idirdhealú", to distinguish between rather than discriminate against, and as a result we won the case four to one.
I mention that because I have always been interested that the first official language is Irish and its meaning determines the force of a word. I understand the need for the amendment.