Varad­kar ‘very dis­ap­pointed’ at ju­di­cial bill de­lay

Irish Examiner - - News - Elaine Lough­lin and Daniel McCon­nell

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”.

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