Reilly calls for review of law giving TDs privilege from arrest on leaving Dáil

Minister for Health says retaining existing rule is “of questionable value”

Minister for Health James Reilly said the provision allowing TDs avoid arrest when leaving the House needed to be reviewed. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister for Health James Reilly said the provision allowing TDs avoid arrest when leaving the House needed to be reviewed. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

The law that allows a member of the Oireachtas privilege from arrest when travelling from Dáil or Seanad business needs to be reviewed, Minister for Health James Reilly said.

He defended Minister for Justice Alan Shatter in the ongoing row over Mr Shatter being stopped and breathalysed at a Garda checkpoint.

Dr Reilly said he believed the provision allowing Oireachtas members privilege from arrest on leaving the House needed to he reviewed although it should be retained for travel to Dáil business.

Retaining the privilege from arrest for members leaving the House was of “questionable value”, he said.

“I believe that we still must protect the right of TDs to get to the Dáil for a vote. That can not be rescinded and should not be rescinded. But the idea that privilege should pertain on leaving the Dáil strikes me as odd. I think that’s something thar the Government will probably look at but will have to be discussed by the Government as a whole.”

Under Article 15 (13) of the Constitution, the members of each house of the Oireachtas “except in the case of treason...felony or breach of the peace” privileged from arrest when going to and returning from, and while within the precincts of, either house.

Dr Reilly said the issue concerning Mr Shatter would be brought to an end with the debate on the motion of no confidence in the Dáil tonight and tomorrow.

He said his Cabinet colleague’s record in bringing in legislation and dealing with tough issues such as the Magdalene survivors had been well documented.

The Minister said he did not believe media reports that a file on Mr Shatter being stopped at a Garda checkpoint had gone missing.

“Mr Shatter has made a very clear statement, there is no such report. So no such report could go missing,” he said.

Asked whether it would be improper for a politician to invoke the provision on their way home from the House, Dr Reilly said: “I believe the law should be reviewed in relation to leaving the Dáil.”