Unless date set for Seanad sitting - Senators will seek High Court determination
6 June 2020
Seanad Group Leader and Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration
Labour Seanad Leader Ivana Bacik has written to the Taoiseach alongside Senator Michael McDowell and eight other Senators (including all the Labour Senators), seeking a date for the first sitting of the Seanad, without the 11 Taoiseach nominees, so that vital legislation can be passed.
The unlikely alliance of Senators will apply to the High Court for a determination of this important Constitutional issue if the Taoiseach is not willing to advise the President to fix a date.
Senator Bacik said:
“A significant issue has arisen as to whether Seanad Éireann can, in present circumstances, meet on a day fixed by the President on the advice of the Taoiseach, as provided for by Article 18, section 8, there having been no nomination yet of eleven members by a “Taoiseach who is appointed next after the re-assembly of Dáil Éireann following the dissolution thereof”, as provided for in Article 18, section 3.
“It is our understanding and belief that in the present situation the elected members of the Seanad can meet and legislate, and that the Oireachtas, as our national parliament, exists as a whole and is not debarred from functioning constitutionally as a legislature by the delay in the Dáil’s nomination of a Taoiseach or the delay in nomination of a further eleven senators.
“It is now over two months since the Seanad elections concluded, and longer since the Dáil general election, and government formation talks continue with no clear end point. Our democratic assembly should not be frozen from legislating and there is a looming deadline of the end of June for the review and renewal of certain provisions under the Offences Against the State Acts.
“Together with my four other Labour colleagues, and five Independent Senators we have written to the Taoiseach asking if he intends to set a date for a Seanad sitting without the 11 nominees, and if not, that we will seek a determination of the High Court.
“This is an unlikely political alliance but we have come together on this point of law as it is our belief that legal clarification is required on our status.”
The ten signatories to the letter are: Senators Ivana Bacik, Victor Boyhan, Gerard Craughwell, Annie Hoey, Sharon Keogan, Michael McDowell, Rebecca Moynihan, Ronan Mullen, Marie Sherlock, Mark Wall.
A copy of the letter is available here.