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The Occupied Territories Bill

Sir, – It is not just Boris Johnson’s government which has, in the words of the UK supreme court, sought to “frustrate or prevent the ability of parliament to carry out its constitutional functions”.

Here in Ireland, the Government continues to block the vast majority of Opposition Bills through its wrongful exploitation of a device known as the “money message”, which allows the Government to block Bills which it deems to have a financial aspect. In doing so it is frustrating the Oireachtas in its exercise of the “sole and exclusive power of making laws” which the Constitution vests in it.

Speaking in the Seanad on Wednesday, Senator Michael McDowell, a leading expert on Irish constitutional law, stated that the Government’s blocking of the Occupied Territories Bill specifically is in bad faith and an act for which the Taoiseach and Tánaiste should be ashamed.

The Occupied Territories Bill seeks to prohibit trade with settlements illegally established on occupied territories including, of course, Israel’s ever-expanding settlements on the Palestinian territory it occupies. With Binyamin Netanyahu having recently committed to formally annexing these settlements, the enactment of this Bill could not come soon enough. It is fortunate therefore that it is entirely within the gift of the Dáil to stop the Government from abusing the money message device. It can do this by making a simple amendment to the Dáil’s “standing orders” (ie rules), something which the Government cannot prevent.

It is encouraging to know that TDs have begun to consider such an amendment. However it is critical that they do not delay in doing so. With in excess of 50 Bills being blocked and, it would appear, only months left in the life of this Dáil, there is no time to lose. – Yours, etc,

GERRY LISTON,

Legal Officer,

Sadaka – the Ireland

Palestine Alliance,

PO Box 110,

Ballyshannon PO,

Co Donegal.