Varadkar ‘very disappointed’ at judicial bill delay
A “frustrated” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is “very disappointed” at the failure of the Judicial Appointments Bill to get through the Oireachtas before the summer break.
He said the time has come to examine if limits can be set to stop TDs filibustering indefinitely delaying important legislation. The bill failed to be passed through the Oireachtas before the summer recess and will not now be finalised until the autumn at the earliest.
Championed by Transport Minister Shane Ross, the bill has been dogged by criticism from within Government and the opposition.
It did not conclude its committee stage in the Seanad on Thursday, meaning it could not be sent to the Dáil for final stage which it must do to become law. Mr Ross had long hoped it would have passed by the summer recess.
Mr Varadkar yesterday said: “I am very disappointed that it hasn’t got through the Seanad. It has got through the Dáil, it hasn’t got through the Seanad in this term and that’s certainly not because of the Government. A huge amount of time has been given to debate the bill and [Justice] Minister [Charlie] Flanagan has put in heroic hours in the Dáil and Seanad trying to get the legislation through.”
Mr Varadkar said he would not like to return to a position where legislation is rammed through the Dáil, using the guillotine, but the situation must change.
“What we have seen with this legislation and other legislation, like the Road Traffic Bill, is people holding it up and not only does that delay important legislation, it delays all legislation, other important laws that we need to get passed,” he said.
“I wouldn’t like us to go back to using the guillotine in the way it was done in the past, I think perhaps it was over-used in the past but I do think it would be reasonable to set a limit on the debate — 24 hours, three days — there should be some sort of reasonable limit on it,” he added.
When asked what he thought a reasonable limit was, he said: “I think that would depend on the legalisation, a two-page bill is very different to a 100-page bill but I think that is something that the Dáil business committee and the Seanad leaders could examine. Nobody wants to stifle debate, but the general public are often frustrated by how long it takes the Dáil and Seanad to get things done, I share their frustration.”
Mr Ross recently told the Irish Examiner that the bill, once described by Attorney General Seamus Woulfe as a “dog’s dinner” now resembles a plate of “caviar and oysters”.