The Government’s “serious abuse” of Dáil procedure in blocking Opposition bills will today be the subject of a High Court judicial review.
Four Opposition TDs were granted leave to seek a judicial review into the Government’s use of a procedural mechanism to block more than 50 Opposition bills on the grounds they could expose the State to a financial cost.
TDs Bríd Smith, Paul Murphy, Gino Kenny, and Richard Boyd Barrett are challenging a refusal by the Ceann Comhairle on Monday to place a motion submitted by Ms Smith for the order paper of Dáil Éireann.
The motion seeks to prevent the Government from blocking Opposition bills by withholding a “money message” necessary to allow them to proceed through the legislative process, even when they have been voted for by the Dáil.
Judge Simons said that, while he was not making any findings in relation to the serious constitutional issue raised by the TDs, he was satisfied that the threshold arguably had been met.
He said he was satisfied that there is an arguable case that the Government’s use of the money message is incorrect and the decision of the Ceann Comhairle may be justiciable in the High Court.
However, the judge said that he was not prepared to grant a temporary injunction requiring the Ceann Comhairle to suspend the effect of his refusal and to restore the motion to the order paper.
The judge said he was not granting the interim order over concerns about the separation of powers between the courts and the Oireachtas.
The judge said the Dáil had voted on the order of business for yesterday, which did not include the motion submitted by Ms Smith. He was not prepared to make any order that would interfere with that.
Responding to the ruling of the court, the TDs expressed their disappointment at not being granted an injunction but their satisfaction in securing the leave to seek a judicial review.
“The most important thing that was said today by the judge was that he expressed quite clearly, that he went on actually some length, about the very definitely arguable case that the Government is abusing the money message procedure,” said Mr Murphy after the hearing.
The judge also said that the matters raised by the four TDs were “clearly urgent” and should be heard as soon as possible.
The matter will be mentioned before the courts today, with a view to fixing a date for the full hearing of the action.
However, last night, matters in the Dáil took a twist when Mr Murphy sought clarity as to why the time originally allotted to the Solidarity motion was removed from the order of business without a vote.