Norris condemns indecent spectacle of TDs seeking local pre-budget gains
SEANAD REPORT:REFERRING TO speculation on whether the budget would be passed, David Norris (Ind) said it was time for an end to the “indecent spectacle” of allegedly independent parliamentarians using their momentary leverage to secure local advantage for their own little parishes. “I find that disgusting when the entire country is facing a difficulty.”
Mr Norris also said it had been astonishing to hear people on the Fine Gael side apparently praising proposals tabled by the trade unions during the social partnership talks, “because during the discussion of that at government level, they were consistently undermining and attacking them”.
This kind of point-scoring reduced politics. It would make people cynical, he believed.
Earlier, Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael leader in the House, accused the Government of displaying endemic incompetence and failing to inspire confidence.
She noted that trade union leader Peter McLoone had listed in The Irish Timesyesterday the kind of public service reforms that had been on the table last week.
Ms Fitzgerald wondered why this level of reform was being discussed at the 11th hour when it was so badly needed in order to provide the kind of frontline services that were required in health, education and every other area.
“I think it is an absolute disgrace and a complete indictment of the way it’s been managed by the Government . . . clear for all to see with what was on the table last week.”
A law could not be passed to challenge pre-existing acquittals, because it would be trespassing on the judicial domain, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern said.
He was rejecting a Fine Gael attempt to have the removal of the double jeopardy rule in criminal proceedings made retrospective.
Mr Ahern said he thought it was wrong to suggest that the proposed amendment would involve just a procedural change. This went to the very core of an acquittal. From the advice he had received from the Attorney General, there was a very clear danger that, if the amendment was accepted, there would be a very strong risk of referral of the Bill to the Supreme Court and the possibility that the entire measure would not survive.
Eugene Regan, Fine Gael justice spokesman, outlined a range of legal arguments which, he said, fortified his view that the Bill was defective in not allowing the retrospective application of the law.
Maurice Cummins (FG) said that if any senator’s family member had been murdered and it had been later discovered that an acquittal had arisen as a result of a defect, was it being suggested that there could not be a retrial. He did not think that the public would agree with that approach.
The amendment was defeated.