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Vote NO to the Two Referendums on Thursday

category national | rights, freedoms and repression | feature author Monday October 24, 2011 23:01author by Sarah Report this post to the editors

Vote NO to reduce judges' pay | Vote NO to give the government MORE POWER

featured image
Keep the powers of the Judicary and Dail separate!

"it shall be for the house (Dail and Senate) to determine the appropriate balance between the rights of persons and the public interest..." Okay this is pretty basic - A referendum is needed every time a government wishes to change our constitution - this is because the constitution theoretically exists to protect people from the excesses of any government i.e. any elected government can only work within the confines of what the constitution sets out. This means the constitution belongs to the citizens (i.e. us) not the Government. Whatever government is in power has to get our permission to change it. Lots of things in our constitution are outdated and need to be changed BUT and it's a big BUT we should be really careful of letting it be changed for trivial issues.

The two referenda that we are being asked to vote on on Oct 27th are both asking for a transfer of power from the people, us, to the government - that's at its simplest, they are asking us to give them new powers.

So the first question is: are we willing to transfer more of citizens' power to the government at this time?  My answer is NO - it is far easier to relinquish rights and entitlements than it is to campaign to get them back, so unless we are totally convinced that change is needed then we shouldn't change it.

The first question we are being asked is: can the government reduce judges pay in certain circumstances.. (That's a paraphrasing.) Whilst I think judges could well afford to earn less, I think the government should not be given any opportunities to exert influence over our judicial system - we need judges to be independent and not open to perceived threats from Governments.

If do we want their pay to be able to be reduced then a differently worded and structured change is needed that lets someone independent set the salaries of the judiciary (like an ombudsman or a independent board). The second issue with this first question is that the wording that this government is asking us to insert in the constitution is very flawed and imprecise -  the small amount that might be saved by judges' pay being cut would easily be outweighed by the amount the state (that's us (i.e. taxpayers money)) will have to spend on defending the many interpretations that good lawyers or barristers can advance. So if I have confused you- we are saying NO to this one because (a) the principle of judicial independence is really important and (b) because the wording is shoddy and will/may cause problems or court cases in the future.

The second question is way more serious and again is being marketed as a money saving plan - i.e. the government can run it's own investigations into matters of public importance and as they are telling us that way they would be able to avoid expensive tribunals. But if we allow them the power to run these investigations then they would be able to make findings about 'ANY PERSON'S CONDUCT'.  

Now the reasons that this really has to be given a NO vote by any thinking person is that it seems in its wording to be an attempt to change the constitution to remove some of people's most basic human/civil rights - the right to a fair trial, the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, the right to a good name etc.  Now I am not a conspiracy theorist and even if you are the biggest fan of the current government, bear in mind that this change to the constitution will outlast this and probably many more governments. Once this dangerous change is made it would take another referendum to remove it so again even if you trust Irish governments with this power it is very unwise to give away such a basic set of guiding principles that belong to us, and put them in the hands of the elected government or any future elected government -  however good their intentions may be. 

Note that also as this wording would seem to contradict various other treaties we are signed up to as a country (ECHR, etc.) it is quite possible that if and when the government attempts to open an enquiry into any individual that that individual would be able to tie them up in court room wrangling for a very long time because of these 'competing' rights.

So therefore something that purports to save the Irish public from expensive enquiries could actually cost us a fortune.

Also and it's the last point on this, supposedly the Irish Constitution is the highest law of the land = i.e. if law was a game of paper scissors stone then the constitution should trump all the other various laws. However, a while back Michael Mc Dowell of the PDs made a complete hames of incorporating the European Convention on Human Rights into our constitution and so as a result judges have been very perplexed by trying to establish that when our constitution and the Convention (ECHR) contradict each other which one should win out - this means that in cases such as these enquiries the government is asking our permission to be able to run our courts, and the Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg could very easily spend years trying to figure out if each case is in fact legal.

So this change to our constitution is unlikely to help us get swift justice or accountability no matter what the government says. In terms of our own personal civil rights just have a look at some of the wording below - and remember it's far easier to vote NO than regret or undo the changes.

For this one I'll give you some of the wording (if anyone wants the rest,

So the government proposes to insert the following text into article 15.10

[...] each house (that means the Dail or the Senate) shall have the power to conduct an enquiry... into any matter of general public importance (that's a paraphrase there).

In the course of such an enquiry the conduct of any person (whether or not they are an elected politician) may be investigated and the houses may make findings in respect of their conduct.

Okay so the third bit - which I have the biggest issue with says;

"it shall be for the house (Dail and Senate) to determine the appropriate balance between the rights of persons and the public interest..."

Anyway NO to both is what I'm saying.


author by Tpublication date Mon Oct 24, 2011 23:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The referendum on judges pay is totally dishonest and misleading. There are many other ways that this could be decided. The way it is being presented by the government is that if you are against this then you somehow agree with higher pay for judges. There are many other ways such as independent bodies or some kind of citizens board or whatever that could be setup to review judges pay.

The important question though is why was it in the constitution in the first place. Answer because it is a key part of the mechanism of separating the powers of the judiciary and the Dail and keeping one independent of the other. This is separate of powers is the central defining features of our (rather imperfect) parliamentary democracy system.

The wording of the referendum actually defines a "class" of judge. This means they can define the class any way they want and single out certain judges. As someone said on the radio, it could be the District Court judge that sits every Thursday in Swords, Co. Dublin. In effect the judges then have to watch their backs and be careful about going against the government. Whilst I don't believe they are fully independent at the moment, because they do sense the direction of the prevailing political wind at times and go with it, I certainly don't think whatever independence they have and display should be eroded further.

The proposed new wording is:

5 1° The remuneration of judges shall not be reduced during their continuance in office save in accordance with this section.

2° The remuneration of judges is subject to the imposition of taxes, levies or other charges that are imposed by law on persons generally or persons belonging to a particular class.

3° Where, before or after the enactment of this section, reductions have been or are made by law to the remuneration of persons belonging to classes of persons whose remuneration is paid out of public money and such law states that those reductions are in the public interest, provision may also be made by law to make proportionate reductions to the remuneration of judges.

When you look back at the very limited coverage of this issue and particularly the way it is slanted and heavily biased even on the official referendum website, you have got to be worried.

author by W. Finnertypublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Thanks to the contents of Article 6.1 of Bunreacht na hEireann (the written Constitution of the Republic of Ireland), the "Powers of Our Government" are much more a "Tri-Partite Separation of Powers" arrangement, than a "Bi-Partite" one.
Some further information relating to this point can be found via the following link:
Correctly or otherwise, it has long been my view that our judiciary could have used their potentially very powerful role -- in the "Tri-Partite Separation of Powers" arrangement -- to prevent all (or almost all) of the really serious government wrongdoing of the past decade or two: but, they failed to do so; and, the really big unanswered (and extremely disturbing) question in my mind is "WHY"?
"Abuse of power by one (of the three main branches of government) can be checked by the others and tyranny, hopefully, is prevented." ("Principles of Irish Law" by Dublin Law Lecturer Brian Doolan.)

author by Justin Morahanpublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Unless someone convinces me otherwise.

The kangaroo courts I have seen so far have been in the courts

They are so unfair and corrupt that I am willing to take a chance

author by Serfpublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:33author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Justin has a point.

what we've seen in belmullet proves that it doesn't matter if we vote no on this. When it counts, The courts still act in the interests of power.

Thats a corruption / elite consensus problem.
However this is still bad legislation going into our constitution. We should not facilitate this in law either.

There are better ways to control judges pay.
And there are better ways to allow committees to investigate with safeguards.

I'm still voting no, even though I agree with Justin that the legal system is corrupt and broken and that it currently exists to take away rights from poorer people not bestow them, whilst enriching those in the corrupt profession.

These people made a fortune during the property bubble overcharging "conveyances". They are vultures always profiting from the carcasses of our misery.

author by W. Finnertypublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 14:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I believe that all three of the main branches of our Government already have more than enough powers to prevent wrongdoing by our overall Government (i.e. Executive, Legislative, and Judicial).

The real problem is that they -- all three of the main branches of our Government that is -- are failing to use their powers inherent in the Tri-Partite Separation of Powers Principle (upon which our written Constitution is structured) in socially responsible and sensible ways ways: either because of ignorance, fear, or whatever?

What, for example, has there ever been to prevent one or more of our TDs (or Senators, or a mixed group of TDs and Senators) to formally challenge -- through the High Court, and if necessary the Supreme Court -- the legislation which is at present being used in connection with our taxpayers bailing out the bankers regarding their "banking derivatives" gambling debts, or, with the "great giveaway" of our untapped oil and gas reserves (estimated to be worth 5.4 trillion Euros)?

Among other things, the crucially important matter of the people having the "final" say, under the "common good" terms of Article 6.1 of our Constitution (the highest law of the land), is being blatantly ignored in both these examples of extremely serious "Government (Big G) Wrongdoing".

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 14:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors those who interpret them.

The constitution has loads of qualifiers for the common good.. but they are overridden by private interests and the culture of individualism and social-darwinian competition.
If Gallagher get home, the entrepreneurial(read pirate)PD culture is redeemed and back in the saddle for the duration.

author by W. Finnertypublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 14:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

In response to Opus (at Wed Oct 26, 2011 14:30), I would say that laws are only as good as those who stand up for them.
The Republic of Ireland's biggest problem just now (in my view) is that, for far too long, far too few people have been willing to stand up for the highest law of our Nation (i.e. our written Constitution); and, the main and very worrying upshot of all that is the people of the Republic of Ireland have slowly but surely ended up being saddled with a very large pile of secondary legislation which violates the highest law of the land: bogus and invalid secondary law in other words; but, which our judiciary, and indeed our entire legal profession nonetheless wholeheartedly -- and entirely fraudulently and perversely -- supports (both by "deed" and by "omission").
 A nice "how do you do" we all (as a Nation) now find ourselves in?

author by aunt vanyapublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 22:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On a point of information, the Constitution specifically provides for subordinate legislation. Even when the Constitution was drafted back in the 1930s it was recognized that the modern state required subordinate legislation in order to function, and that primary legislation couldn't do the job on its own efficiently (Imagine the Dail debating whether or not parking should be allowed in the centre of Ballydehob!). However, subordinate legislation must operate strictly within the primary legislation which delegates the power to make regulations, etc. The Courts operate to enforce this principle by way of their judicial review jurisdiction.

On the point of the referenda:

1. Judges pay: The referendum will cost us several times what will be recovered from the 15% of judges who refused to allow their salaries be reduced. Moreover, the new pension-capping rules will cost the judges far more and many have made the decision to retire before the February 2012 deadline. There is nothing in the present Constitutional provisions to prevent their replacements being paid much lower salaries on appointment. Anyhow, the whole thing is a diversion. We would have saved much more money by passing an amendment providing theat no one can keep more than one public (national or EU) pension.

2. Dail inquiries: The example of the powerful US Congressional committees is often cited in support of this amendment. No thanks. The MacCarthyite House Committee on UnAmerican Activities undermines this argument. At present, Representative Peter King is conducting a shameless Islamaphobic witch-hunt under the auspices of a Congressional committee. However, the former AGs should have kept quiet. They hardly strengthen the case against the proposed amendment. Gleeson and Sutherland would both be candidates for investigation in any inquiry into the economic crash and banking crisis. In any case, the wording is horribly flawed, and could facilitate legislation which could give the Oireachtas powers that few other democratic legislatures enjoy. Much more important is proper criminal legislation to ensure that inthe  future the sort of behaviour that precipated the banking and fiscal crises will attract criminal liability and proportionate punishment. 

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 22:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

of the moneyed..

the decent, conscientious poeple dont need it to know how to behave, but often get trapped by it; and the rats either ignore it or exploit it, or both.

Both these amendments are herrings, as is the presidential ZZ-factoring... but I'll be voting NO NO and McG..because he frightens the gombeens..and I'll give MDH a try and block Gallagher's gallop...seems the only way to use it.

author by Robertpublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 22:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So might McDowell be a candidate re Thornton Hall and more and he could find himself there fairly quickly, might be one reason why he appeared so agitated last night on Prime Time.

The banker boys have cover for the time being and god knows how much longer, as the proposed committees cannot examine what is under criminal investigation.

The charge against this is being led by lawyers, ex AGs, Goldman Sachs Head Honcho (and austerity for the masses merchant Suds) and an ex Banker Gleeson.

All of the elected political parties (bar SP ULA, havent heard from them ?) are for it and they can, in the last analysis, be turfed out, unlike errant judges, who resigned with big pensions for dirty work at the crossroads and alleged dirty work on a computer. Who served the out of date warrant on the latter ? There would hang a tale. 

Late and proper debate is a problem with the inquiry proposal for me, but some of those guys pleading is a bit too much to stomach. They may be hurt by shakedowns of information which they do not want the rest of us to know about.

author by cropbeyepublication date Wed Oct 26, 2011 23:08author address Cork city northsideauthor phone Report this post to the editors

At present the seperation of powers are

totally balanced in favour of the courts and the judges.

They cannot be trusted by the ordinary people the myth of their reliablity is misplaced

faith. They are much worse than the muppets in the Dail and on an anual basis

do lots more damage.

author by leftypublication date Thu Oct 27, 2011 01:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The problem is
They will not use these extra powers on the right people.
They will use them on protesters.

author by W. Finnertypublication date Thu Oct 27, 2011 06:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Today's two referendum votes ought to be have been (in my opinion) -- under the very clear, simple, and straightforward terms of Article 6.1 of Bunreacht na hEireann (the written Constitution of the Republic of Ireland) --  used for the purpose of enabling the people of the Republic of Ireland to have the "final" say on the two "common good" issues of: 1) bailing out the bankers in connection with their self-inflicted multi-trillion Euros "derivatives" gambling debts, and 2) the "great giveaway" of our untapped oil and gas resources (valued at 5.4 trillion Euros).

I will be voting "No" to the two referendum questions presented on today's ballot sheet: mostly because, in terms of priorities relating to the "common good" of the people of the Republic of Ireland, on October 27th 2011, I see them as totally inept choices for the citizens of the Republic of Ireland to be presented with: having due regard for the two closely related and extremely pressing issues referred to in the paragraph above.

For those who might not have seen it, the full text of Article 6.1 of Bunreacht na hEireann -- the highest law of the land -- reads as follows:

"All powers of government, legislative, executive and judicial, derive, under God, from the people, whose right it is to designate the rulers of the State and, in final appeal, to decide all questions of national policy, according to the requirements of the common good."

Related link:

author by W. Finnertypublication date Tue Nov 01, 2011 13:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"ATHENS, Nov 1 (Reuters) - The leaders of France and Germany scrambled on Tuesday (i.e. today) to limit damage after Prime Minister George Papandreou decided to let Greeks vote on a bailout package -- a move that stunned markets and threw Greece's euro zone membership into question."

Full text of article can be viewed at:

My hope is that this very welcome piece of unexpected news might help trigger a very badly needed and long overdue referendum (on the same subject) in the Republic of Ireland).

author by Derek - Nonepublication date Tue Nov 01, 2011 20:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

No way, cde Howlin would never allow it. Some people cannot be trusted.

author by W. Finnertypublication date Thu Nov 03, 2011 08:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

"As can be seen from the contents of the e-mail at the Internet address immediately above, it appears to me that the Government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) of the Republic of Ireland continues to totally violate -- with complete impunity -- Article 6.1 of Bunreacht na hEireann (the written Constitution of the Republic of Ireland), which is the core piece of law that lays at the very heart of the highest law of the Republic of Ireland."

"I believe that the real reason my application for the State (Non Contributory) Pension has been rejected centres around my efforts to expose the treasonous Government crime referred to in the November 1st 2011 e-mail copied to Minister Joan Burton mentioned above -- and in numerous other e-mails (of mine) to government ministers throughout the entire period of the past 12 years or so -- many of which can still readily be viewed on the several Internet web sites I have been using for such purposes; and, that the rejection of my State Pension application has nothing whatsoever to do with glib explanations and statements of the 'no new evidence has been provided by you in support of your claim' and so the 'Department is not in a position to review your entitlement at this time' which Ms Kennedy has stated in her October 26th 2011 letter to me at: "

The two excerpts above have been copied from the text of a registered letter sent yesterday (i.e. November 2nd 2011) to the Republic of Ireland's Chief Appeals Officer; and, a copy of it has been sent to President-elect Michael D. Higgins (also through the registered post yesterday).

The full text of the November 2nd 2011 registered letter to the Chief Appeals Officer can be viewed at:

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