Private Members' Business. - Courts Bill, 2000: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am sorry the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is not present even for the concluding part of my contribution. I repeat my congratulations to Deputy Shatter on taking up his new brief and compliment him again on his record of successfully introducing Private Members' business into the House. I fear for the future of that record, given that the current incumbent in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is less than generous in terms of accepting good ideas from this side of the House. This is despite the fact that the Minister took great personal pride in measures he advocated from this side of the House which were accepted by his predecessor.

It should be an important part of the reform of the Houses that Ministers should be encouraged to see the Dáil as a real legislative Chamber and not as a cipher or rubber stamp for the work of Departments. It should be perceived as a place for bringing the various talents on all sides of the House to bear on issues so that no side or individual appears to have a monopoly on wisdom.

I wish to précis some of the arguments I made last night, to deal with some of the aspects of the Bill and make a number of general comments. As already stated, the Bill is a worthy measure and it will be supported by the Labour Party. However, it does not purport to be radical and is limited in its scope. The first point I made to broaden the debate involves the issue of the divided legal profession. I can address that issue as a lay person who is a member of neither the solicitors' nor barristers' profession. I am not convinced that a divided profession, such as the one which currently exists with separate entry, training and disciplinary criteria, best serves the public. When it comes to litigation, I am concerned that the division of the profession adds to the cost to members of the general public of access to legal redress.

There are a number of useful general proposals in the Bill. The first of these – I am sure Deputy Shatter will be anxious to reply to this point – involves having litigation solicitors appointed to the superior courts. As Members are aware, under the law solicitors can be appointed judges of the District and Circuit Courts and can be appointed judges of the High Court from the Circuit Court. This provision, should it be enacted, would allow solicitors who are designated litigation solicitors to be appointed to the superior courts immediately.

I raised a number of points last night regarding how litigation solicitors could be identified and Deputy Shatter pointed out to me that in the definition section he has defined that term. The Bill states that High Court or Supreme Court litigation solicitor means a practising solicitor who is regularly engaged in the conduct of proceedings before the High Court or the Supreme Court whether as an advocate or as an instructing solicitor to counsel. I have a difficulty with that definition – I was aware of it when I made my comments last night – because, being involved as an instructing solicitor, it is hard to judge the person's involvement in litigation in that sense.

I was probably disingenuous when I stated that many solicitors have a hard neck charging fees for what amounts largely to clerical work in certain instances in circumstances where they hire an advocate to prosecute or take a case and sit in the court with no great function other than to instruct counsel in the matter. I am sure that extensive briefs are prepared by some but it would be difficult to ascertain from the definition, solicitors who would measure up to the criteria we would expect of people serving in the good tradition of eminent High Court and Supreme Court judges.

I do not want to dwell overlong on this matter but I made the point last night that the definition to which I refer requires some refinement. For example, what does the term "regularly" mean when used in this instance? Does it mean once a year or several times a year? These issues can be teased out later and, as already stated, this point is extraneous to the principle which I strongly support.

The current system of appointment introduced in recent legislation to establish a Judicial Appointments Advisory Board came about on foot of concern within the body politic and the among members of the general public in relation to appointments to the Judiciary. I recall when my party was in Government with Fianna Fáil some difficulties arose in respect of the appointment of the President of the High Court. I was asked to sit down with a Cabinet Minister from Fianna Fáil to devise a system and the embryonic judicial advisory board system emerged from those discussions. However, legislation was not enacted until the following Administration came to power.

I stated last night that I have some concerns, in principle, about the workings of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. I welcome the Minister's comments that he also would require more openness in the way that system works. I wish to refer to two aspects which need to be addressed. First, the broadness of the recom mendations that come to Cabinet. As stated last night, seven are required to be present but those applications that are not successful remain on the table unless the applicants wish to have their names withdrawn. Therefore, the actual pool from which the Government chooses can be a number far greater than seven at any given time. I would prefer it if a smaller select list were presented.

I have a number of difficulties with regard to the consultative process or, to use the term employed in the Law Library, the "soundings" which are taken in private to determine whose names should be placed on the list. I am fully aware that we cannot have a public list because people would not put themselves forward if they thought their candidature might be made public and that, in the event they were not chosen, it might have an effect on their standing thereafter. However, we require a more open system than the "soundings" that are currently taken.

On the general accountability of judges, a matter on which the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Ronan Keane, has made comment upon in recent times, the Bill deals with appointment only but we need to deal also with some measure of accountability after appointment. I know that a report on that matter is to become available shortly and I hope this matter is one of high priority for the Minister.

My final point relates to solicitors being appointed senior counsel. As stated briefly last night, I am assured that the procedure for the appointment of senior counsels is one which simply creates precedence within the Bar, has no other status and is a throwback to the sovereign's prerogative from a foreign jurisdiction. I understand there is no legal basis for this procedure and I am advised that there have been no legally created senior counsels in this State since its foundation. The Minister might be willing to address this matter or perhaps not.

In essence, I have no difficulty in supporting the measures proposed in the Bill. The Minister, in the spirit of accepting reasonable ideas from this side of the House and allowing them to progress to Committee Stage, should also accept it.

I propose to share my time with Deputies Conor Lenihan, John McGuinness, Pat Carey, Brendan Kenneally, Marian McGennis and Michael Kitt.

Again we debate an issue which the Opposition has seized upon in an attempt to embarrass the Government. In trying to steal a march on the Minister they have jumped the gun because they know the Government's Court and Court Officers Bill is about to be published. That Bill will be comprehensive and will include many recommendations from the expert groups which have been deliberating since 1996.

The primary purpose of the Private Members' Bill is to give effect to the main recommendations of the report of the working group on qualifications for appointment of judges of the High Court and Supreme Court which was published on 16 February 1999. The group was established on 10 December 1996 by the then Minister for Justice to consider and make recommendations to the Minister for Justice on the question of qualifications for appointment as judges of the High and Supreme Courts. The Minister advised us last evening on the new Government Bill and said the Court and Court Officers Bill, 2000, is due to be published this session. The drafting of the Bill is close to finalisation but since Government approval to publish has yet to be sought it is not possible to disclose its contents in any degree of detail.

The Minister indicated that during the course of the drafting process careful consideration was given to each of the report's recommendations and to the implications which would flow from their implementation. That consideration indicated that there were certain difficulties with aspects of the recommendations. The principle contained both in the report and in the Private Members' Bill, that solicitors with appropriate practice and experience should be eligible for appointment to the High and Supreme Courts, has been accepted by the Government and will be reflected in the forthcoming Bill but the mechanism whereby that principle is to be realised may differ somewhat from that envisaged by the report.

The Government Bill will also deal with a range of other court related matters, mainly administrative in nature. Its scope will be wider than that of the Bill now before the House. It is interesting to note that a section from the fourth progress report of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution dealing with the appointment of judges discusses the role of the judicial appointments advisory board. The committee expresses the view that the present system of appointing judges should be retained. This was an all-party committee proposal. Why has Fine Gael departed from that all-party view?

The Private Members' Bill would require the Government, prior to advising the President on the appointment of a person to judicial office, to submit the name of that person to a committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas and to take into account the views of that committee. That would be a radical change in existing procedure. It is unclear how it would work in practice and, in any event, would necessitate widespread consultation before being implemented. The Minister strongly favours working within the present structures with a view to improving them as far as possible. I agree with him in this.

There should be a reference to the judicial committee which was established in April 1999, as recommended in the sixth report of the working group on a courts commission. Its remit was to consider the sixth report of the working group; consider further the position in other jurisdictions including Canada, New South Wales, the United States and New Zealand; consult the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Bar Council, the Law Society, academics and others and receive other submissions from interested bodies; advise and prepare the way for the establishment of a judicial body which would contribute to high standards of judicial conduct, establish a system for the handling of complaints of judicial conduct and other activities such as are undertaken by other similar bodies; do other preparatory work including that relating to judicial standards and ethics; and consider other matters which had arisen since the sixth report was finalised in the previous November. The establishment of the commission was warmly welcomed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and it is hoped the report will be available by the end of the year.

I call on the Opposition to withdraw the Bill and await the Minister's Bill which will be published shortly. This will be a comprehensive Bill which can be debated on all Stages before being passed by the House.

I welcome this effort by Fine Gael to open a debate which I am sure the Minister will address later in the session when he produces his own Bill. I am sorry to have to say that this Bill, coming as it does from Deputy Shatter, is not up to standard for a variety of reasons. It is too narrow and does not address the huge issues that lie behind the spirit of what he is trying to do.

The Deputy should withdraw that remark. Deputy Shatter is a very capable man who has put more Bills through this House than any legislator.

I welcome Deputy Ring's spirited defence of his colleague.

Deputy Lenihan should withdraw that remark.

If Deputy Ring is patient he will hear me say that Deputy Shatter has an enviable reputation in this regard. He has produced very good legislation and has the enviable record of being the only Deputy to have had a Private Members' Bill passed in this House; he did so with great distinction. While not denying his undoubted legal talents and expertise I think he has produced this Bill on the hoof. It is not up to standard. I am not a lawyer but that it what lawyers tell me. The Bill reflects a political imperative rather than a strong legal case. Deputy Shatter could have done better.

It is political opportunism.

We hear the expert talking now. A future Attorney General. Under Fianna Fáil even Deputy Lenihan could be appointed.

Some very strange appointments have been made by our side of the House, even in recent years, but we have not yet appointed a non-lawyer to the position of Attorney General. I believe the late Deputy John Kelly who was not a Senior Counsel had to be upgraded to facilitate his appointment as Attorney General, which was slightly unusual.

Another capable man.

Wonders never cease among the Members opposite. We will not go into the unenviable reputation of Deputy Ring's party leader in terms or Cabinet appointments. In its brief two and a half years the rainbow Government lost more Ministers than we have done in the space of three years. There was a variety of reasons including malfunctioning fax machines in the Department of Justice which were not to Deputy Quinn's taste.

There is some decency in my party. A Fine Gael man would not sit up like Fianna Fáil Deputies did this morning.

There are some good ideas in the Bill, not least of which is the element of parliamentary scrutiny of appointees.

Deputy Lenihan would know very little about that.

However, a constitutional problem attaches to that. This is not an idea which can be introducedquam celerrime, as quickly as possible. It should be discussed in the context of the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution.

It was rejected by the Minister last night.

It is important to note Mr. Justice Keane's suggestion in a ground breaking radio interview that constitutional difficulties would arise if the appointment of judges were to be moved to any body other than the Government. His ideas and views should be noted by the Opposition.

Deputy Shatter was talking utter nonsense about political representation with regard to judicial appointments.

Did Deputy Lenihan make representations?

I have made representations and while I thought they were successful I am not so sure. The calibre of the people on whose behalf I make representations is second to none. I generally find they are appointed to the positions for which I recommend them.

I do not want to draw further on the ire of Deputy Ring or excite him further, so I will just say that this Fine Gael Bill would perhaps have been better left to one side and the Government bring forward its own Bill. Time would have been better spent on Second Stage and on Committee Stages, deliberating on the contents of the Minister's Bill, rather than on this Bill. Perhaps this Bill was prompted more by the issue of judicial appointments than by the need to introduce proper legislation and as a result, it is lacking somewhat in content.

I welcome the indication by the Minister last night that the pool from which judicial appointments will be drawn in the future may be widened and will include solicitors, for certain courts at least. However, the appointment of judges should continue in its present format and should be part and parcel of the activities of the Cabinet. Referring these appointments to committees is not the way to go. The Government is elected and the Cabinet is appointed and should deal with all of these issues. Successive Governments in the main have made excellent appointments to all courts and the judicial process has been blessed with quality candidates for such appointments. It is important to emphasise that judges have served the system well and that the debate on this Bill does not take away from that record or create doubt or uncertainty about the system.

Recent changes in the Courts Service's department and the appointment of its own chief executive officer has brought about very positive changes in our court system and administration. Facilities too have improved, not only for the judges and the legal profession but for the general public. An extensive courthouse refurbishment programme has also been implemented. That too has improved the working conditions for people, the manner in which the courts are held and has been an asset for the general public because they have seen at first hand the excellent service available. I have no doubt that the Government's Court and Court Officers Bill, will deal extensively with not just the appointments but also with other administrative issues that are part and parcel of the judicial system.

I welcome the fact that the Minister will introduce a Bill. Given his record in this House, I have no doubt he will put before us a Bill with vision and content, to which I look forward.

Like my colleague, Deputy McGuinness, I do not want to draw the ire of Deputy Ring because I gather his throat was not quite up to it earlier. However, I am glad to see that the healing process has encouraged him along.

Thank you very much.

I welcome this timely debate. I do not suggest that Deputy Shatter is doing anything other than facilitating such a debate. As the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy John O'Donoghue, said last night in the course of his contribution, it should be remembered that Governments of all parties since the foundation of the State have had a role in shaping the judicial appointments system, which we have now. If there are to be changes in that system, they should be introduced on the basis of consensus and by general agreement.

An independent judiciary is a very precious commodity. We have been lucky to date in the calibre of those appointed to serve as judges and as the all-party committee has noted, there is no evidence that those appointed in the past have displayed favouritism to the party that appointed them. Any such suggestion would be extremely insulting. If there are changes to the appointments process, we must be sure those changes are worthwhile and that a demonstrable value is to be gained in making them.

In the course of his interview with the "This Week" programme some weeks ago, the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Ronan Keane, said that the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, of which he is chairman, recommends up to seven names to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for a judicial post. They are appointed by the President on the nomination of the Government. The Government has the say. If they are to progress with a different mechanism, that did not involve the Government at all, that would require a constitutional amendment. We ought to tread warily.

There is a great deal of good content in Deputy Shatter's Bill but there is much that needs to be teased out and as has been said elsewhere, the devil is certainly in the detail. It would be far better if we were to leave the Bill to one side and concentrate on the Minister's Bill which he has suggested will be part of forthcoming legislation shortly. We already have a mechanism in this State with specialist expertise in the law, through which the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board is available to assess and vet applicants for judicial office. The 1995 Act sets forth criteria for the assessment of candidates. All elements of the legal profession, the judiciary, solicitors, barristers and the State through the Attorney General, are represented on the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board.

A point that must be raised on the committee anticipated in the Private Members' Bill, is that there is no reason to single out judicial appointments for this procedure. There are many other public offices which would require similar treatment. For example, would we do it for Ministers or Ministers of State, directors and chief executive officers of State boards and EU Commissioners? It is not clear what the remit of the proposed committee in the Private Members' Bill is supposed to be. It does not deal either with any interaction with the role of the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. For example, is it to test the political and social outlook of the nominee? If so, this could be damaging to the administration of justice.

There is a need, in the light of recent experience, to examine some way of addressing the ethics of the judiciary but that is probably for another day and we can address it when the Minister introduces his Bill.

I am at a loss to know just why the Opposition has tabled this Bill at this time. It is accepted practice and only logical, that Private Members' time should be used for measures other than those the Government proposes. As much of what is proposed in the Courts Bill, 2000, will be tabled under the Government's Court and Court Officers Bill, 2000, which will probably be introduced later in this session, it seems rather a waste of time and Opposition resources to debate this measure this evening.

I can only conclude that Fine Gael feels this is the area in which the Government is most deficient and can find very little else about which to criticise it. However, since it was tabled, we should point out some of its deficiencies and the reasons the party opposite should wait for the more complete Government measure.

While I agree that certain changes are both desirable and necessary in the appointment of judges, it would be only fair to point out that the system as operated up to now has worked very well. Had it not, we would have been embroiled in far more controversy, had many more debates and have heard many more calls for impeachment. It is a tribute to the way judges in general have conducted themselves and have kept largely out of the public eye, that we have not needed to debate their behaviour in this House to any significant extent.

The Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995, introduced the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board to recommend suitable candidates to the Minister. This has lessened the use of political patronage and has brought a greater measure of transparency to the appointment process. It is a tribute to the members of the Judiciary that they have largely acted fairly in whatever matters have come before them, regardless of which Government appointed them or how their deliberations affected the Government of the day. In short, we have been generally well served by previous appointees.

However, nothing stands still. We are in rapidly changing times, with changing standards and a vastly different society to that of even ten years ago. We must move with the times, react to change and be ahead of it, if at all possible.

The proposal whereby solicitors with the appropriate practice and experience could be appointed as judges of the High and Supreme Courts, appointments denied to them under the present system, is a logical one. This will be provided for in the Government Bill and is a measure which is long overdue. No doubt there will be some reservations expressed in some branches of the legal profession, but that should not be sufficient reason for not going ahead.

As the Opposition is well aware, this was provided for in the report of the working group and is just one of the several proposals made in this Bill which are known either to find favour with the Government or are already included in its measure. I very much favour the proposal whereby all proposed appointees to the bench must be able to produce a tax clearance certificate under the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. This is logical from two points of view. First, we already demand such a certificate from other professions and, second, it will establish that judges are required to be at least as transparent in their financial and tax dealings as any other member of the public. I am not in the least suggesting that judges are any more likely not to have their affairs in order than anyone else, but in this day and age, while judges must remain aloof, they must be as amenable to the law as any other citizen. We have seen recently how events can reach out to even the Judiciary and embroil them in controversy in circumstances which would not have been contemplated even a few short years ago.

I realise that it must be very difficult for the Opposition to come up with proposals which are not already in place or will not be included in the Government's forthcoming measure. However, there is one proposal which I can only describe as daft, namely, the suggestion that the names of appointees be put before a committee of the House for ratification prior to recommending them to the President for appointment. Considering the Government of the day would make the recommendation to the committee and that the Government side would have an automatic majority on the committee, the process would be little more than window dressing and rubber stamping.

In conclusion, while the Bill has certain elements to recommend it, I would on balance prefer to wait for the Government measure.

I acknowledge the work which has gone into the preparation of the Bill. It is always difficult to bring forward a Private Members' Bill and Deputy Shatter has a very good track record in that respect. I also wish to recognise that the Bill which the Minister referred to will be far more wide ranging that the Bill before us. The matters which the Minister proposes to deal with are not in the Bill. As the Minister said, he is not in a position to give us the exact detail of the Bill until it is approved by the Government.

The Bill deals principally with eligibility for appointment as judges, which I recognise is important, but from the point of view of court practitioners and those who use the courts, there is a far more urgent need to overhaul the way the courts do their business.

I am a member of the committee on court practices and procedures which recently discussed such issues, and I wish to refer to a submission which I received from a solicitor. I would like to ask the Minister to look at the issues which were raised by way of submission to us.

The Private Members' Bill refers to the need to abolish the requirement for personal attendance in the High Court and Central Criminal Court and the Minister stated that will be included in his Bill. The solicitor who made the submission to us has also requested that we recommend a change in the rules of the superior courts to permit the delivery of documents by fax. It is amazing that in the 21st century there is still a requirement to bring documents in person given that the country is designated an e-commerce hub. We have also been asked to consider changing the rules of the superior courts to permit the delivery of documents by e-mail, and it is amazing this is not currently available. Another recommendation was that probate applications be permitted to be made by post. There are lengthy queues for various reasons in the Four Courts which is obviously a waste of time for the people who have to queue and of the time and resources of those working in the courts.

It was also recommended that the courts join the document exchange – the submission we received suggested this would vastly improve the manner in which work is done in the courts; that we make all court forms available on computer disc in the usual word processor formats, for example, Word, WordPerfect and Lotus – I know the Revenue Commissioners are about to do this and I see no reason the courts cannot do likewise; and the need to simplify probate forms, which is a matter of language. The submission points out that the language is archaic and anyone who has used the forms will agree. A recommendation was also made to abolish any requirement to obtaining a return date for motions before the court and court masters. I specifically mention these points because the Minister has indicated that his Bill will be far more wide ranging than that before us. Also, solicitors should be permitted to run accounts for court fees. Currently there is a need to physically present oneself and pay to have a document stamped which seems absolutely ridiculous in this day and age.

I am particularly interested in the way the business of courts is conducted in terms of families who have to appear. I wish to put on record my appreciation of the way in which the garda liaison officer helps families who have to attend court for such things as murder and manslaughter cases. The physical lay-out of courts can be very traumatic and upsetting for families and I think the Minister in conjunction with the courts' body should look at a major refurbishment of our courts. We need to go about our court business in a much better way. This Bill achieves some of that, but I hope the Minister's Bill will go much further.

I congratulate Deputy Shatter on bringing forward the legislation. He has certainly opened debate on the issue of judicial appointments. I am also glad the Minister has referred to the Government Bill which will be introduced in this session. What is contained in Deputy Shatter's Bill and in the Minister's Bill will open up opportunities for solicitors with appropriate practice and experience to be eligible for appointment to the higher and superior courts. As my col- lea gues said, it widens the pool for such appointments.

Successive Governments have made excellent appointments in the past. One of the criticisms has been that Governments have appointed their own supporters. It is true to say that Jack Lynch, as Taoiseach, and from then on successive Taoisigh, reversed that trend and appointed people from different political persuasions.

We have had debates about extending the remit of judges. We had an example in the past of a judge who had the incorrect date of birth recorded and legislation had to be introduced to rectify the matter. What is being proposed by Deputy Shatter regarding solicitors, which has been accepted by the Minister, is logical. The Minister said the Government Bill will also deal with a range of other court related matters, mainly administrative in nature.

I pay tribute to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board and the All-Party Committee on the Constitution. Significantly, the all-party committee expressed the view that the current system of appointing judges should be retained. There is a suggestion in the Private Members' Bill that the name of the person to be appointed should be submitted to a committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is not too clear how that would work in practice, and in any event it would need widespread consultation before being implemented. Obviously, questions arise about the need for the attendance of the individual concerned, or whether the person would be questioned by a committee. The Minister favours working with the current structure, something with which I agree. We should improve the current system if at all possible, but we have an independent Judiciary which is enshrined in our Constitution and we must be careful that we do not encroach upon the independence and tradition which exist.

Our Judicial Appointments Advisory Board is composed of eminent individuals of the highest integrity and all persons nominated for judicial appointments since the Government took office have been drawn from lists submitted by the board. The advisory board must satisfy itself that the person concerned has met certain criteria set out in the Act which ensures that individuals with appropriate competence are recommended for appointment.

The Minister spoke about the balance of rights between the confidentiality which individual applicants have a right to expect and the requirements of accountability and I hope the Minister will have that transparency in the Bill which he will publish. These structures have only been in place since 1995 and I am sure they can be improved, but we have to move with care and it requires debate and consultation among the legal profession, the Judiciary and the Courts Service. I am sure the Judiciary would like changes. The All-Party Committee on the Constitution has expressed its view that the Government cannot be open to the criticism that it only appoints its own supporters rather than suitably qualified persons when choosing from the list. That is a very important statement and I welcome the fact that the Minister is in favour of introducing legislation in the near future.

I welcome the debate on the widening of the eligibility of solicitors for appointment to the superior courts. I hope the Government will introduce legislation in the near future to deal with this issue and other court related matters.

I wish to share time with Deputies Ulick Burke, Crawford, Gerry Reynolds, Perry and Gay Mitchell.

I congratulate Deputy Shatter for introducing this Private Members' Bill which represents his 18th Private Members' motion. That is why I became upset on hearing Deputy Lenihan, a man who has never introduced legislation in the House and the way he is shaping up, he probably never will. Four of Deputy Shatter's motions have been accepted by the Government and have been incorporated into Government Bills.

The Minister, when in Opposition, was a good man for introducing Private Members' motions, many of which were accepted by the Government of the day. I urge him to accept Deputy Shatter's motion and to address any problems which may exist on Committee Stage. This is very good legislation which should be immediately taken on board by the Government. Some 18 months ago, the Government promised to introduce its own legislation on this matter. We will have a new Government in another 18 months' time. The Law Society has welcomed this legislation. In a press release dated 10 October it stated that if the Government did not intend to introduce its own legislation in this area, it should accept this legislation and rectify any deficiencies on Committee Stage. That is a very reasonable request.

Fine Gael is very lucky to have a person of Deputy Shatter's calibre who can introduce this type of legislation. The Government has numerous officials and advisers at its disposal, yet Deputy Shatter, a lonely backbencher, can introduce this necessary legislation.

He is not that lonely.

He is neither lonely nor a backbencher.

I congratulate and compliment Deputy Shatter. I was upset to hear Deputy Lenihan castigating him tonight. We are proud to have Deputy Shatter in our party. When he becomes a Minister he will generate such a vol ume of legislation that the Opposition will not know what has hit it. I encourage Deputy Shatter to keep up the good work and hope Fianna Fáil can find somebody of his calibre in its ranks.

I am delighted that the legislation would enable solicitors to become High Court judges. Many ordinary people, who do not understand the legal process, are amazed to find that judges can be interfered with and that politicians can go into judge's homes drinking tea in an effort to rectify legal situations. Ordinary people were of the opinion that nobody could interfere with the judicial process. Like politics, the Church and education, the judicial process has been badly damaged over the past 12 months and many people have lost confidence in it. That is understandable when people see former Ministers making representations to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in regard to judicial appointments. I could understand Deputy Lenihan, a man without any legal experience who has never served as a Minister and who would not understand how the process works, doing that. He stated that all his representations were very successful. It is amazing to learn that he has such power within the Government; I thought the Independents held all the power.

It is disgraceful to see the judicial process being interfered with. I compliment Deputy Shatter on his good work; we need more people like him in this House because they will restore the confidence in the system which people are demanding. I look forward to seeing his 19th piece of legislation being introduced in the coming weeks and I hope the Minister will accept this Bill.

I welcome the opportunity to support this Bill and to compliment Deputy Shatter on its introduction. I regret that the Minister and the Government see fit to reject the Bill, the timing of which is very appropriate in the aftermath of a series of very serious difficulties involving members of the Judiciary. It is of paramount importance that the separation of powers between the Judiciary and Executive is placed beyond doubt at all times. The recent Sheedy affair and its far reaching repercussions highlighted the essential need for this divide to be clearly maintained at all times, as required by the Constitution.

The Judicial Appointments Advisory Board was established under the Courts and Courts Officers Act, 1995, for the alleged purpose of introducing openness and accountability in the area of judicial appointments. In spite of this, the Minister retains the right to override the board's recommendations and to revert to the old system of appointing the Minister's own personal choice. The statistics outlined by Deputy Shatter on representations made by Government Members in regard to judicial appointments show that the present system leaves a lot to be desired in terms of openness and transparency.

Last night, the Minister criticised Deputy Shatter's proposal that the name of the Government's nominee be submitted to an Oireachtas committee on the grounds that this would interfere with the Judiciary's independence. On the contrary, what better means could be devised to ensure the openness of judicial appointments? Furthermore, there is a series of inconsistencies in the Minister's views on this Bill. In his speech he stated that the approach taken in the working group's report was perhaps unnecessarily rigid and that something less formulaic might work better in practice. Further on in his speech he criticised this Bill on the basis that it is a mere skeleton of a proposal in which there is such an insufficiency of detail that to accept it would be impermissible folly. It is regrettable that the Minister feels the need to clutch at straws in order to justify rejecting Deputy Shatter's Bill, a Bill which he acknowledged at the outset was very worthwhile and commendable. There were numerous inconsistencies in the Minister's speech indicating the uncertainty of his own position on the legislation.

I welcome Deputy Shatter's proposal to free up appointments to the Office of the Attorney General by providing for the acceptance of solicitors, not only to the staff of the office but also to the position of Attorney General itself.

This Bill would widen the pool of lawyers from which judicial appointments could be made by permitting the direct appointment to the High Court and Supreme Court of solicitors who have ten years' experience in litigation. As it stands, only barristers who have been in practice for 12 years' can be appointed. The Bill would reduce that to ten years. There are only 1,300 barristers in the country while there are 5,500 solicitors. It is obvious that this Bill would provide increased opportunities for people of differing abilities from different backgrounds.

Deputy Shatter's record of producing legislation, unlike that of Deputy Lenihan, is second to none. The independence of the Judiciary is a core value of our democracy. However, justice delayed is justice denied. Young people who are prepared to report rape and other abuses must wait five or six years to have their cases heard because of delays in the court system. We would welcome it if under this legislation more and better judges were appointed. Many of those who are waiting for justice to be done will also welcome Deputy Shatter's efforts.

The appointment of judges must be more open and transparent and not done solely on political record. The list system must be more transparent. The fact that the Minister has admitted to receiving over 40 representations from Oireachtas colleagues in respect of judicial appointments indi cates how the system works. It was interesting to hear Deputy Lenihan say he was fortunate to have one of his nominees appointed; I hope his ability is not similar.

Judges must be accountable. There is need for an appraisal of those in the system. Unless there is more even handed treatment in the courts serious doubt will be cast over judgments. There was a recent case where a person from outside the State was caught speeding at 100 m.p.h. through a housing estate. Following a plea by the legal personnel the judge found that payment of £100 into the poor box was sufficient penalty. This sends out a message that cannot be justified. In another case a person taking diesel oil across the Border was let off on a technicality because the judge found we, as legislators, did not have a proper system in place.

Under the Bill a retired judge cannot be appointed to any domestic or international body without the approval of the appropriate Oireachtas committee. If such a provision had been in force last June the Government would not have been able to appoint Hugh O'Flaherty to the European Investment Bank without first submitting his name to the committee for approval. Everyone in this House would have been better off had that appointment not taken place. It opened up many wounds and left many question marks over the judicial system that will take a long time to die down.

Fine Gael believes there should be greater Government accountability and proper parliamentary scrutiny in regard to judicial appointments. The Bill requires that prior to the Government formally advising the President of the name of its nominee to judicial office it must submit the name to an appropriate committee of the House. That is a positive step that should be implemented.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak on the Bill and congratulate my colleague, Deputy Shatter, on introducing this legislation. As previous speakers have said, he is well regarded for bringing worthwhile legislation before us. The Government should deal with it in a more pragmatic manner than the Minister who disregarded many of the proposals.

I studied law but did not practise it. The public is far removed from what occurs and this Bill would make it more transparent. The catch-cry of politicians is that the public must understand whatever legislation is enacted.

I welcome the proposal that allows solicitors to become High Court and Supreme Court judges. It is imperative that appointments are not confined to the Bar because only a small number of people are involved. It is important that solicitors be considered for these worthwhile positions. I have no doubt but that when the Government brings in legislation it will accept this principle. There is no openness or transparency in the current system. The Bill requires that the names of the Government nominees be submitted to the appropriate Oireachtas committee, which is the Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, so that it may consider the nomination and express an opinion on it which will be published and submitted to the Government. The committee will be enabled to hold a hearing on the appointments where it is deemed appropriate and, for the first time, the Oireachtas will have a role in the making of judicial appointments. That is fundamental to the Bill.

Of the last ten judges appointed by the Government, eight were appointed because of strong representations made by members of the Government parties. We must move away from the position where politics is seen to play a role in judicial appointments. The only way to do that is to submit a list of those proposed under the 1995 Act to the committee so that it can question them. In that way the public would know there is openness and transparency in the system. I do not understand how the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform can refuse that. It can only be of benefit to those who are appointed.

Solicitors are at the coalface meeting clients. Many people will have dealings with a solicitor at some stage but few meet barristers unless they go to the Supreme Court, High Court or Circuit Court. Litigants who attend those courts are often in awe of the outdated procedures that exist. Deputy Shatter stated in the Bill that the wearing of wigs should be done away with. We are dealing with people in the 21st century, not the 1800s.

The Bill requires that no retired judge can be appointed to any domestic or international body without the approval of an Oireachtas committee. As a number of my colleagues have said, the debacle concerning the former judge, Hugh O'Flaherty, would not have occurred had this Bill been in place. The proposal that solicitors should be considered for appointment as Attorney General would give the Government a wider pool from which to appoint someone rather than confining it to a member of the Bar. The Bill will make for excellent legislation. For the life of me I cannot understand why the Government will not agree to take on board most of its provisions.

I compliment Deputy Shatter on bringing forward this important legislation. The separation of powers is regarded as being one of the cornerstones of democracy. The Judiciary should be entirely independent from the other limbs of government, the Executive and the Legislature. The system under which judges are appointed by reference to their political affiliations is harmful to this concept and, therefore, undesirable. This becomes apparent when one considers that it is the party in government which dictates who is to be appointed.

The system of politically appointed judges is contrary to the rule of law, which is fundamental to all systems of constitutional law and defined as the separation of the official's moral or political preference from the rules he or she is supposed to administer. The key concept is objectivity. It is a constitutional principle that all citizens are equal before the law. Clearly, there is a tacit, if not overt, pressure on a judge to regard in a benign fashion provisions advocated by a particular party.

There is a system of checks and balances in the Constitution, under Article 26 of which Supreme Court judges are frequently called upon to assess the constitutionality of Bills referred to the Supreme Court by the President. It is obvious that if a particular Bill has been proposed by a certain party, political appointees of the same creed on the bench will consciously or unconsciously consider the proposal in a certain light.

The Judicial Advisory Committee merely advises the Government on who should be appointed as judges. The scope for abuse is obvious. Time and again our best legal minds have been passed over because of their political hue. In short, there is no guarantee that the best man or woman will always get the job. The system smacks of cronyism and jobs for the boys.

In a democracy justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. Questions raised about the Sheedy affair remain unanswered. It exposed what Patrick Kavanagh called the half-talk code of mystery, the wink and the elbow language. This nod and wink culture has no place in 21st century Ireland. The ethos is openness. At a time when we have a Freedom of Information Act dating from 1997 and tribunals of inquiry probing into the dark recesses of public life, to maintain the current system is to fly in the face of the spirit of glasnost now prevailing. In a democratic society one must strive to ensure openness and impartiality in the selection and appointment of judges. That is not to say that judges should be devoid of opinions. On the contrary, the more experience a judge has the better. As a great American jurist noted, the life of the law has been experience, not logic. Political patronage is tipping the scales too far on the side of subjectivity. It is both archaic and outdated.

This Bill would widen the pool of lawyers from which judicial appointments may be made by permitting the direct appointment of solicitors in practise as judges in the High Court and Supreme Court. Given that there is a closed shop, this is an important recommendation. The broad experience solicitors would bring to the bench would be of benefit in administering the law fairly. That is what the people expect. Whether one is a millionaire or on minimum income, everyone is equal before the law.

The Bill is very much in keeping with the 21st century. It would provide for the independence of judicial appointments regardless of political patronage. I compliment Deputy Shatter on bringing forward this important legislation which would have far-reaching implications.

I join with others in acknowledging the excellent work done by Deputy Shatter in bringing forward this legislation and giving us the opportunity to discuss the matters contained therein. I wish to raise a point that has not been raised so far in the debate. Unlike others, I would have no difficulty in appearing before a judge known to have a Fianna Fáil background. By and large, members of the Judiciary behave in an independent manner regardless of their political affiliations. They do try to be fair and that fairness shines through. This is something of which we should be aware and appreciate and we should be careful not to deny or denigrate it. That is not to say, however, that all judges are as good as others. Given their number, there are some who do not measure up to the job. One of the difficulties is that there is no way of bucking them up – one either removes them from the bench or leaves them where they are.

How representative are members of the Judiciary? As they are unelected, they cannot be representative in the way Members of the Dáil are, but one presumes that those who sit in judgment on the community have first-hand knowledge or if they do not, that they will seek to acquire it to enable them to do the job they are supposed to do. I very much doubt, however, that people in parts of my constituency such as Cherry Orchard, Fatima Mansions, Dolphin House and St. Teresa's Gardens have ever met a judge. Some would say that judges simply do not understand the difficulties that they face which in many instances are directly related to law and order.

Judges do not apply the laws that we pass because of our understanding of the difficulties people face. For example, there is a fine new estate in my constituency. Most of the people living there are excellent but life is being made hell for them by a handful of others. It is almost impossible to deal with this situation. In the recent past we have passed the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, both of which need to be implemented. I understand that for the first time a judge is considering applying an interim exclusion order to prohibit youths from gathering in a part of my constituency in which they do not live. I am glad about this.

If those nominated for appointment as judges had to appear before a committee of the House, I at least would be able to ask them what they know about Cherry Orchard and Fatima Mansions, when they were last in Dolphin House or St. Teresa's Gardens and when appointed to the bench if they would make it their business to meet the communities concerned to ascertain what life is like outside of Dublin 4 and similar areas. As representatives of those areas we must experience their problems first-hand. It is not good enough that judges are far removed from them. If they are to do their job properly, they should acquaint themselves with the conditions and environment in which communities live. A total of 98% or 99% of the people living in each of the areas mentioned are decent, law-abiding and upright citizens who are of the view that they have been let down by the State. All they are seeking is law and order in their communities. When they want to confront the State they can arrange to meet their public representatives, the local Garda superintendent and officials of Dublin Corporation, but they never get to meet a judge.

I appeal to the presidents of the various courts and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to provide induction training courses for judges following their appointment. I also appeal to the Minister to accept the provision under which judges would have to appear before a committee of the House prior to their appointment. This would enable me and others like me to put these questions to them.

The Bill would make provision for the appointment of solicitors as judges, in the same way as barristers, in the higher courts. I advocated this when I introduced a Private Members' Bill in 1987, the Reform of the Courts Administration Bill, much of which has come to pass with the enactment of the Court and Court Officers Act.

Is it necessary to be a judge to sit in the District Court? Does it not require common sense rather than a grasp of the finer points of the law, especially if there is an experienced advocate or defendant of a case, or the registrar of the court, to advise the judge on the law? Do we need lawyers to man the lower courts?

There is very little chance that anybody from the areas I have mentioned will ever qualify as a lawyer. However, from the people I know in those areas, a large number would qualify to be good judges. I wish we could find a way to put people on the benches of the lower courts who are not necessarily qualified as lawyers.

As might have been expected, the debate on the Bill introduced by Deputy Shatter has been very interesting. It has given rise to some thought provoking ideas, including the rather novel idea of moving towards what is termed the legal equivalent of the chain store. I imagine this concept might get a unified response from both sides of the legal profession.

As the Minister said earlier, the core principle at the centre of this Bill, that solicitors of appropriate qualification and experience be eligible for appointment to the superior courts, is acceptable to the Government. However, it is crucial that the system put in place to effect this change is one we can stand over.

Deputy Howlin in his intervention pointed to certain weaknesses inherent in the Bill. This demonstrates that the approach taken is not without controversy. It also underlines the fact that devising a workable method for the possible appointment of suitable solicitor judges to the superior courts is not as simple as it might at first seem.

Deputy Shatter argued in favour of greater governmental accountability for the making of judicial appointments and for the proper parliamentary scrutiny of that process. However, he also acknowledged that these matters are governed by constitutional constraints. The Minister is open to working structures and to improving them in so far as this is feasible, but the independence of the Judiciary cannot be compromised and there must be serious misgivings about the desirability or workability of the committee type system proposed by the Deputy.

Deputy Higgins dealt at length with the procedures that exist for dealing with complaints regarding misconduct by judges. Recommendations touch on this point in the fourth progress report of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution, which recommends the establishment under the Constitution of a judicial council. That body's function would be to review judicial conduct as distinct from judicial decisions and to draw up a code of ethics. The committee also recommended the introduction of impeachment procedures for judges similar to those which apply to the President.

The judicial committee established following the publication last year of the sixth working group on a courts' commission is also examining the question of judicial conduct. The committee has looked at the position in other jurisdictions, including Canada, New South Wales, the USA and New Zealand. It has also initiated consultations and has received submissions from interested bodies.

Furthermore, in accordance with its terms of reference, it will advise on, and prepare the way for, the establishment of a judicial body which would contribute to high standards of judicial conduct and establish a system for the handling of complaints relating to such conduct. It will also do other preparatory work relating to judicial standards and ethics and will consider matters which have arisen since the sixth report was finalised in November 1998. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Government should await the report of that committee before coming to any firm conclusions on these issues.

No debate on the system of appointing judges should take place in isolation from some consideration being given to the supports for judges once they take up office. In this context the Government is committed to introducing reforming measures through the justice system and statute law. Indeed, it is almost one year since the Courts Service was formally established by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. This was the most fundamental reform of the courts system since the foundation of the State.

Responsibility for the day to day management of our courts now lies with the Courts Service under the stewardship of the board and the chief executive officer. A programme of change and modernisation is under way. Increased resources were also provided this year, including £7 million for information technology and £13.5 million for construction, refurbishment and upgrading of the courts.

The Government is committed to continuing reform and modernisation of the courts system. This debate has been useful in highlighting some very important issues. We will no doubt have an opportunity to encounter them again when the Courts and Courts Officers Bill is published later in the session.

It is a privilege and a pleasure to sit with Deputy Shatter, as we have done over the many years we have been Members of this House. Deputy Shatter has made a huge contribution to the body of legislation introduced to the House. He has acted in the role of legislator, the most important role of elected representatives and one which carries with it a huge responsibility. It is only through the introduction and implementation of legislation that we can guarantee democracy, equality and protection of citizens' rights.

As he has done when addressing all legislation introduced to the House, Deputy Shatter centrally addresses in this Bill the issue of making the law and the practise and accessibility of the law more open, equal and operable. That is why this Bill is of such importance.

When we look at the procedures of this House and of the courts it is sometimes hard to believe that we are in a new millennium because for a long time we have operated as if in the 19th century. This built up a sense of isolation, elitism and removal from reality in the perception of people with regard to the workings of the courts and their trust and confidence in them. This is what the Bill seeks to address. Its implementation is urgent.

To ensure the Bill becomes the working document it should be we need more modern and well equipped courts. Deputy Shatter addressed that. Above all, we need more resources, staff and more free civil legal aid.

The central thrust of the Bill is to widen the pool of lawyers and their expertise and experience. As Deputy Gerry Reynolds said, solicitors are at the coal face. This is something we are reminded of in the role of Deputy Shatter, both as lawyer and legislator. They are not outside the community, nor the experience of people, the majority of whom, unfortunately, are desperate when they are called to court.

The public demands the openness and transparency sought by the Bill. One of the greatest things we must do in this democracy is to restore confidence in Parliament, including the way legislation is introduced and implemented. It is also necessary to restore confidence in the Judiciary and in the way it will judge and operate the legislation. Both institutions have been badly damaged and highly distrusted because of recent events. It is our responsibility and that of the Judiciary to restore confidence with all urgency. That is why I am disappointed the Bill is not being accepted.

Deputy Kenneally's contribution confirmed something I and the other members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights found out to our cost and frustration when we attempted to deal with the Sheedy affair. There is no way, either through the Constitution or the mandate given to Members of this House, to investigate people or bring them before committees to explain or answer what the citizens wish to have answered. Part of the Bill Deputy Shatter has included would allow a person to appear before a committee, such as the committee I have just described. However, Deputy Kenneally said that would be a rubber stamp. That is a matter of concern because it seems the Government believes the Oireachtas committees, which have all-party representation and expertise, are a rubber stamp. As someone who believes in and has worked the committee system and who wants to strengthen it, I reject that. It is an indictment of the Government that Deputy Kenneally views the committees, particularly the committee of which I am the vice-chairman, as a rubber stamp for Government. I would like the Minister to reject that as soon as possible. There is no point in having Oireachtas all-party committees and hoping they work in an open, transparent and democratic way. I would like the Minister to restore confidence in that process and to ensure it is accepted.

Our court system may have been put in place with the best of intentions. However, I am sure Deputy Shatter knows more than most thatin camera family law cases and decisions made behind closed doors must be brought out into the open. I hope we have an opportunity in the near future to debate this issue more fully. I also hope we introduce other promised legislation and that solicitors working in the system and couples, families and children who appear before the courts receive public acknowledgement that justice is working for them.

I thank all those who contributed to the debate on this important measure. I thank all my colleagues in the Fine Gael Party for their kind words and vigorous support for this important reforming legislation. I also thank the Labour Party for its support.

I am deeply disappointed at the attitude taken by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. This measure was brought forward because there is a need to introduce substantial reform in our court system. There is a need to blow the cobwebs out of the legal profession. The Minister in his speech could not advance a single substantive reason for the Government's opposition to the Bill. The main reason is that he has been thinking about introducing a Bill for 18 months and he wants to go on thinking about it because all these issues are complex and difficult. Perhaps he will eventually get around to doing it.

The Dáil is supposed to be a legislative assembly. People want to see Members of this House constructively engage in the legislative process. It has been my experience during my time as a Deputy that some Ministers are open to legislative proposals, while others automatically produce a knee-jerk reaction once a Private Members' Bill is published and they oppose it for whatever reason they can find to justify their attitude.

If the Minister truly believes the pool from which lawyers are selected to be appointed to the High Court and the Supreme Court should be widened, he should not oppose this Bill because it provides the legislative mechanism which would allow this issue to be further teased out on Committee Stage and for this reforming legislation to become law before the end of the year. However, the real reason the Minister does not like the Bill has nothing to do with the widening of the pool of lawyers from which judges can be selected. The Minister does not like the Bill because the Fianna Fáil Party is still locked into outmoded politics, cronyism and behind the door deals. It fears the proposals in this Bill to make the judicial appointments procedures more transparent.

It is extraordinary that the Minister was not able to produce a single coherent or persuasive reason, upon the Government nominating someone for appointment to the Judiciary, the name of the nominee should not first go to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights for its consideration and opinion. The reason is the Government does not want the Oireachtas to participate in that process. The Government does not believe in openness and transparency. It does not recognise that what we need is a democratic revolution. People want to see a change in the way we deal with politics. They want to see a different ethos. Fianna Fáil is firmly locked into an ethos which is undermining politics and contributing to the increasing cynicism of the public.

Deputy Conor Lenihan always has something interesting to say. His verbiage usually runs approximately three minutes ahead of his mental processes and he has done it again tonight. He scored an interesting own goal. I said in this House last night – not one member of the Fianna Fáil Party contradicted me – that out of the ten judicial appointments made to date by the Government to the District Court eight secured their appointments as a consequence of private political representations made to the Minister by his ministerial and backbench colleagues, by members of the Progressive Democrats and by the Independent Deputies on whom the Government depends.

The Government has conspired to corrupt and undermine the application of the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995. It gets from a body of integrity a list of seven proposed names for appointment to the Judiciary and then instead of objectively assessing the merits of those candidates, the Minister waits to see which political colleague will make representations to him. Whoever is favoured as wearing the colours of Fianna Fáil or the Progressive Democrats or whoever he may need to appoint to keep the Independents on side he will appoint. That is the wrong procedure and it is not what the public expected to happen after the enactment of the 1995 Act. It is the reintroduction of political cronyism through the back door. Not only has the Minister intro duced it through the back door, he is behaving in a manner which will undermine public confidence in judicial appointments. The Minister, who is the Minister for Justice, has a particular sacred role in that regard but I hasten to add that this Minister is not only the Minister for Justice, he is the Minister for Equality. Equality how are you. Ten judicial appointments have been made to date to the District Court. An eleventh is about to take place. The name has been made known but the President has not yet made the appointment. Of the 11 people who have been nominated to the District Court in the three and a quarter years in the lifespan of this Government by this Minister, ten of them are men. Is that equality? The Minister for Equality has nominated ten men to the District Court and one woman. How can this Minister retain any public credibility when he talks about the need for equal treatment?

How many female names came up?

Will anyone take the Minister seriously? No one will take him any more seriously on his profession of a commitment to equality than they take the concept of his version of zero tolerance.

It is a bad night for this Dáil that this Bill should be voted down on Second Stage. I will make a final attempt to urge the Minister not to divide the House but to accept the Bill and let it go to the justice committee for debate on Committee Stage.

Question put.

Bell, Michael.Belton, Louis J.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, John.Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Hayes, Brian.

Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip.Howlin, Brendan.Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGinley, Dinny.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ring, Michael.Ryan, Seán. Tá–continued

Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.

Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.Yates, Ivan.


Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cowen, Brian.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Foley, Denis.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Keaveney, Cecilia.

Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Lenihan, Brian.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Martin, Micheál.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Treacy, Noel.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Flanagan and Stagg; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.
Question declared lost.