Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013 Committee Stage

Senator Mark Daly: I welcome the Minister of State to the House.  The proposal is to delete so many provisions in the Constitution, yet there are no prescriptive measures to make alternative arrangements that have not been agreed beforehand.  We know from other jurisdictions where they have one chamber that they have powerful committee structures in place and greater oversight.  The Minister of State has been around long enough and will be aware that our current oversight structures are dysfunctional.  This is particularly the case with European legislation.  At Westminster, for example, the House of Lords scrutinises EU directives prior to Ministers signing them.

Earlier today, we had a vote on, but were not allowed to discuss, an EU directive on organ transplantation.  The measure was not discussed prior to the Minister signing it either.  I was informed by representatives of the Irish Kidney Association and other groups that if that EU directive had been done correctly with—–

I am talking about the fact that there are no prescriptive replacements for the Seanad.  The Government does not seem to have an idea how it will scrutinise EU directives and have a proper legislative structure for doing so.  While we might have a legislative deficit, we have a shocking legislative system whereby EU directives are not scrutinised.  There is a proposal to take apart the Constitution and abolish the Seanad’s constitutional function.  However, I do not see how we will make our legislative structure better as a result of this.  In fact, we will create a dysfunctional legislative process much worse.

Will the Minister of State indicate what the Government proposes to do now that it is trying to get rid of the Seanad and there will be no mechanism to properly scrutinise EU legislation or statutory instruments?  Political scientists have said time and again that we have a dysfunctional system that does not work.  We are taking it apart and removing 75 sections of the Constitution but we do not have a proposed mechanism to do the job better that is currently being done badly by our democratic and legislative system.  We are making a bad situation worse.

It was news to me, and the Minister of State might not be fully aware that by the time one adds up EU directives, regulations and statutary instruments, which are entirely the prerogative—–

An Cathaoirleach:  We are on section 5.

Senator Mark Daly: If you will allow me latitude, a Chathaoirligh, my point relates to why we are taking apart our legislative system.  We are not introducing any mechanism to replace it.  That is a big worry.  We are literally dismantling an arm of the legislature.  I am highlighting a seriously dysfunctional aspect of the legislative system as currently constituted and I wish to know why we are not discussing the replacement of what it is proposed to remove.  What we have currently does not work.  The Seanad has the potential to amend the democratic deficit but we seem to be rushing headlong into dismantling it without having a real proposal on how to make a dysfunctional system work better or at all.



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