Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 25 May 1989

Vol. 390 No. 6

Business of Dáil.

On a point of order, at the beginning of public business this morning I gave notice to you, Sir, of my intention to seek a debate, contemplated by Standing Order 30, on a matter of urgency and of great public importance. I have been notified by your office that it is not your intention to allow the debate and the reason I rise here is to seek clarification of your ruling.

I have conveyed my decision to the Deputy and I have nothing further to add to that.

I would like to quote Standing Order 30. Notice was given to you in writing in advance of today's——

Deputy Mitchell, if you require any further elucidation as to my decision, my office is at your disposal but my ruling in this matter, as indeed in all matters, may not be challenged in this fashion in the House.

Far from challenging your ruling, I wish to raise a point of order.

I have heard your point of order.

I had not finished my point of order.

You have raised a point of order in respect of a ruling I made concerning a submission you made to me this morning. I have nothing further to add to it.

I wish to make a point of order, Sir.

My ruling stands.

Yes, but I wish to raise a point of order.

I have heard your point of order.

I wish to raise a further point of order. I wish to quote——

The Deputy may not argue with the Chair in this matter.

No, but I may raise a point of order.

I have heard your point of order, Deputy.

I want to finish my point of order. You did not allow me to complete it and I would ask that you do so.

The Deputy is clearly arguing with my decision.

No, Sir, I want to draw to your attention a point of very major public importance and I think I am entitled to complete that before you decide whether or not I am in order.

If the Deputy does not embark upon a speech then let us hear the point of order.

I wish to quote Standing Order 30. (1) which states:

A motion for the adjournment of the Dáil on a specific and important matter of public interest requiring urgent consideration may be made, if a member, who has given notive to the Ceann Comhairle before the opening of the sitting, rises in his place at the commencement of public business and states that he requests leave to move the adjournment of the Dáil for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter of public interest requiring urgent consideration, whereupon he shall state the matter.

The Ceann Comhairle shall, thereupon, if he considers the motion is one contemplated by this Standing Order, desire the members who support the request to rise in their places and if not less than twelve members rise accordingly, he shall give leave to make the motion, which shall be moved at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday or Wednesday, or 3.30 p.m. on a Thursday, or at such hour on the day on which the request is made, as the Dáil may appoint.

Because of the short notice, I was not given an opportunity to state the case.

Sorry, Deputy Mitchell, I have considered the matter to which you referred and I do not consider it is one contemplated by Standing Order 30. That, Deputy, is the end of the matter.

No, Sir, it is not the end of the matter.

It is only the beginning of this matter because this is a very major issue.

That may be so, Deputy, but I have ruled on the matter and I will not be argued with. That is a standing procedure in this House.

I want to ask you——

Deputy Mitchell will now resume his seat.

On a further point of order, I want to ask——

The Deputy is arguing with the Chair on a matter the Chair has decided upon.

I do not wish in any way to fall out with the Chair. I respect the Chair but I feel that this matter is of such major importance——

I have given the Deputy every opportunity.

Could I raise a further point of order?

The Deputy may not continue to abuse the privilege of the House by continuing to raise points of order in this fashion.

Sorry, Sir, but I think I am entitled to be heard.

The Deputy is challenging the ruling of the Chair in respect of a decision I have made.

Could I ask then on a further point of order——

A further point of order.

——if there is any precedent for a Ceann Comhairle not to observe Standing Order 30 to rule thereupon immediately. There was no ruling immediately. I was not given an opportunity to elaborate on the case as is customary under Standing Order 30 and I was not consulted by your office——

I will not enter into argument with you but I will merely repeat what I was obliged to say this morning. The submission which you made to me I received in my robing room as I was about to enter this House. Not only had I no time to consider it; I had not even time to look at it but I have done so in the meantime. I have made my decision and my decision stands.

A Cheann Comhairle——

I have been on my feet for some time. You have persisted in disobeying me in this matter. I must now ask you to resume your seat.

Could I raise a point of order? The point raised by Deputy Mitchell was a different point of order. On the basis of that particular Standing Order, it has to be a matter of urgent public importance for you to allow a debate to take place or a matter to be raised. Could you please indicate to the House whether the creation by the Government of the day, either by their own ineptitude or malice, of a constitutional crisis is a matter of sufficient importance——

Please desist from making a speech. I have nothing to add to the ruling I made.

Could you explain to Members of the House who are entitled, in representing their constituents, to ascertain from you the basis upon which you do not regard this as a matter of such urgent importance as to require consideration by the House?

I have nothing to add to my decision.

On a point of order, I would suggest to you that while your ruling in relation to Standing Order 30 may undoubtedly be correct, it would be entirely proper that the Dáil which, if rumour is to be believed, is to be dissolved this evening, should address this subject which has been discussed in every public house this lunchtime, that is the mess that has been created by the Government.

Sorry, Deputy I am not concerned about the matters to which you refer. I am concerned about the administration of the rules and Standing Orders of this House and nothing more.

It is precisely——

I am calling the next business.

On a further point of order, the Government have sought an emergency sitting of the High Court and have put the Supreme Court on stand-by. The place is in a state of chaos and the Dáil is so irrelevant that we are not allowed to discuss the matter here.


Deputy Shatter, if what Deputy Birmingham says is true——

It is true.

——then this matter is sub judice and in any event it could not be entertained in this House.

The Government are now trying to gag this House on a fundamental political, democratic issue——

I have no knowledge of the matter to which Deputy Birmingham referred.

——relating to the functioning of this country and this House.

In relation to your ruling that the matter is sub judice, will you hear me?

I am not going to be argued with in respect of this matter. I was not aware of the latter matter you adverted to. I made my ruling in respect of Standing Order 30.

The whole purpose of the sub judice ruling is to stop prejudice being created. This is a matter which is essentially one for the Dáil. It is the Dáil that is concerned about constituencies and it is the Dáil's primary concern in regard to elections.

I have nothing further to add to my ruling. Members are seeking to debate the matter now and this is not in order.

When debates take place outside the House but not in the House it is not in the interests of parliamentary democracy.

Could I raise a point of order?

Sorry, if this persists I shall have no option but to adjourn the House.


It is obvious from the discussions now taking place that you made you ruling without being aware, as you have admitted, of certain facts which are to take place in the High Court and possibly in the Supreme Court this afternoon. Does that not then place an onus on you to review you ruling in the light of this additional information?


If the Taoiseach regards the matter as sufficiently important to warrant an emergency court application and the Supreme Court put on stand-by it is an unparalleled political development. I do not think a similar event has taken place in the years since 1922. It is of sufficient importance to be addressed by this House.

Deputy Shatter, the Chair has no discretion to ignore the sub judice ruling.


Sir, in relation to your finding in regard to the sub judice a thing can be sub judice only before it is decided. This case finished on 23 May, judgment was given on that date and the order was made. The Government are now seeking clarification of the order because on the face of it this judgment says the constituencies as currently constituted are unconstitutional. This is simply a clarification of something that is already over, and, with respect, I submit to you it cannot therefore be described as sub judice. In any event, the clarification procedure will not take more than half an hour or so, presumably. It begins at 2 o'clock, it will be over at 2.30 or within the hour.

Deputy O'Malley——

In view of the importance of the ruling, can it be raised in this House after that time?

With regard to the sub judice ruling, I learned about that aspect of the matter only now. I have no personal knowledge of it.

Mr. Noonan

(Limerick East): Could the Taoiseach——

Deputy Noonan, how dare you.

A Deputy

Where is the Taoiseach?

I have nothing to add to my ruling in this matter. If the disorder is going to continue——


I have been on my feet for some considerable time. If this gross disorder is to continue I will have no option but to adjourn the proceedings.

Several things have emerged in the last few minutes. First, you did not know about the clarification action being taken——

Nor do I know now.

——as tying to the decisions. Secondly, the question of whether it is sub judice is still at least uncertain. It has been challenged, and you yourself are not in a position, until you know the facts, to determine that. I submit that in the circumstances you should reserve your position until you have got clarification because it would be quite extraordinary and undesirable that a matter which pertains to the Dáil should be decided by the courts without the Dáil itself being allowed to discuss it. There would be no precedent for that and it would be contempt of Parliament, which we should consider as well as issues of contempt of court. I suggest you reserve your position and get clarification before you take a decision on a matter of such importance.

I will consider further the new circumstances to which the Deputies are referring.