Monthly Archive for October, 2011

5 reasons why you should give me your No. 1 vote

 

The Dublin West By-Election takes place tomorrow. Over the last six weeks, I’ve been meeting people across the constituency, setting out how I would work as a TD and the issues I would prioritise. Below are 5 quick reasons why you should give me your No. 1 vote.

Roderic

  • I’ve a proven track record in Dublin West over the last 8 years, fighting bad planning decisions and working for better schools and public transport.

 

  • I’ve focused on three key issues in my campaign: jobs, education and political reform. If elected, I’ll use the skills and experience I have from my professional life in education and as a law lecturer, to advance long term changes in each of these crucial areas.

 

  • I’ve committed to seeking a seat on the Oireachtas Health Committee if elected, so I can fight to protect 24 hour A&E services in Connolly Hospital and work to reverse other cut backs.

 

  • I’ve pledged to ensure that the section of Swords in Dublin West gets fair representation and that constituents living there do not have their voices ignored.

 

  • I’ve stated that if I am elected, I will work as a national legislator, representing the views of Dublin West on the major issues affecting our country. I strongly believe that when elected as TDs, politicians should not be acting as glorified county councillors.

Why I’m Voting No in the Oireachtas Inquiry Referendum

Obviously as a candidate in the Dublin West by-election, my focus has been on my own campaign, to the neglect of the Presidency and the two constitutional referenda. It was only as I was sitting down to prepared some lecture notes for my 1st Year Constitutional Law class on the role of the Oireachtas that I had a chance to fully consider the implications of the Oireachtas Inquiry vote.

The amendment arises primarily as a response to the ‘Abbeylara’ judgment of the Supreme Court in 2002. This case put significant limitations on the type of inquiries that either House of the Oireachtas could undertake. In particular, the Court determined that an Oireachtas inquiry could not make findings of fact regarding the culpability of an individual for actions they committed.

The Government has responded by proposing inserting 3 new subsections into Article 15.10 of the Constitution.

The new Art 15.10.2 creates a power for either or both Houses of the Oireachtas to undertake an inquiry into any matters considered by them to be of general public importance.

The new Art 15.10.3 says that as part of these inquiries, the conduct of individuals can be investigated and that the House/s can make findings of fact regarding their conduct.

The new Art 15.10.4 says that the House/s concerned will determine the correct balance between the rights of persons and the public interest for the purposes of ensuring an effective investigation. Such a determination will be done with due regard to the principles of fair procedures.

I would agree that aspects of the Abbeylara decision need to be overturned. But I’ll be voting No to this amendment, for three main reasons outlined below:

A)   The new Art 15.10.4 is of major concern. It allows the TDs/Senators to determine the procedural rights (right to hear evidence against you, right to question someone who gave evidence against you, right to respond) of persons before such inquiries. And unlike the law as it currently stands, the Courts’ power to intervene if TDs/Senators limit individuals procedural rights has been significantly lessened.

B)   The new Art 15.10.4 is vague on how the TDs/Senators will decide what procedural rights individuals before the inquiries receive. Will these be set out in legislation, or will these be devised by each separate committee of inquiry as they go along. If it is the latter, different people coming before different inquiries may end up with different rights. I am concerned that there is a risk that the standard of rights may vary accordingly to how politically controversial the issue before the inquiry is.

C)   On a wider point, there has been virtually no debate on the implications of these amendments. The degree of public attention focused on the Presidency has meant that these significant changes to the Constitution, giving TDs/Senators new and potentially unsupervised powers, have not been brought to the public attention. The Government has promised a Constitutional Convention to look at the Constitution and see what articles need to be revised. A change as big as the one being proposed here should be left to be discussed in that forum.

TDs and Senators should have the power to mount inquires, but we also need to acknowledge that politicians may use these inquiries for political gain. When we remove or limit the ability of the Courts to scrutinise the actions of the politicians undertaking such inquiries, we open the process up to abuse.

I urge people to Vote No to the amendment on 27th October and let the Government refer the issue back to the Constitutional Convention it has committed to holding. The Irish public deserve a full debate on such major change.

[For other takes on the proposed amendment, read Eoin Daly, Donnacha O’Connell and report by Carol Coulter.]

Defending Connolly Hospital

 

On Thursday evening I attended a packed meeting in the Crowne Plaza Hotel organised by the Defend Blanchardstown Hospital Campaign.

The hospital has become a major issue in this campaign. You only need to knock at about 10 doors here in Dublin 15 to get an impression of the genuine fear that exists about the level of service provision in Connolly and in particular, about the future of the A&E department.

After hearing presentations from some of the staff in the hospital, myself and some of the other By-Election candidates spoke, outlining our concerns regarding the current provision of services and what we felt we could do if elected on 27th October. This was followed by questions and answers with the audience.

I outlined my commitment to firstly maintain the full 24 hour A&E service onsite in Connolly and secondly, to fight to against other damaging cutbacks within the hospital.

If I am elected, I’ll use the platform the Dail gives as a means of calling the Department of Health and particularly the HSE to account. In particular, I will seek to get a position on the Oireachtas Health Committee. At the moment, none of the current Dublin West TDs sit on this committee. Giving Dublin West a voice on the Health Committee would be beneficial as it can call in the HSE Management Team, question them, and get clarity on its spending, organisational and staffing priorities for Connolly.

As I would not be constrained by any party whip, I believe I could work effectively in the Dail to hold the HSE to account and oppose cuts which would impair the hospitals major functions.

I also outlined to the meeting my plan for guaranteeing increased funding for health services in the country in the medium to long term. I would propose to the Constitutional Convention that the Government has promised that a right to healthcare be enshrined within the Constitution. This would mean that, irrespective of the ideological make-up of any future government, it would be forced to spend money within the health care system.

Had this happened between 1997-2007, we would have emerged from the boom years with much better health infrastructure, and there would have been last money to waste on the various property based tax-breaks that pump-primed our economy and have resulted in so much damage.

There is a major march planned in support of the hospital planed for Saturday 22nd October, starting at 1:00PM. I’ll be attending to demonstrate the importance of the hospital to myself and the entire community in Dublin 15.

Equality

I’m a firm supporter in full marriage equality for same-sex couples. While I’m proud of the work the Green Party did in passing the Civil Partnership bill during our time in government, I firmly believe that civil partnership is only a step towards the full, equal treatment that LGBT Irish people fully deserve. This can only be achieved through full same-sex marriage equality.

Why should you vote for me?

Launching my Campaign

Myself and Eamon at the launch

On Saturday, I launched my by-election campaign along with Eamon Ryan at the Castleknock Hotel. I was joined by a good crowd of family, friends and Party members from across the country.

In my speech, I set out the three areas that I am focusing my campaign on: jobs & strategic investment, education and political reform. Obviously, tackling these areas is essential to resolving the country’s current difficulties, but I also see them as crucial in ensuring that in the long term, we do not see a repeat of the crisis that has done so much damage.

There have already been significant ‘green economy’ investments in west Dublin, where IBM has based its Smart Cities research centre and Bell Labs have located their Green Touch programme. We must continue to market our area as a good place to locate technology firms. Part of this process is ensuring that we have the sort of world class infrastructure that attracts international firms. This is why I will fight to keep the Metro North as a viable project.

Coming from a background working in education, I know the importance of this area to our countries future. I would use my position in the Dail to push for long term increases in education funding, so that by 2020, Ireland spends 7% of GDP in this area. Such sustained investment will reduce class sizes, provide for those with special needs and widen out access to the education system.

It’s clear that the economic collapse was cause by a combination of failures across political and public life. I want to start the process whereby we ensure that such mistakes never happen again. The FG/Lab Government have pledged to hold a Constitutional Convection to re-examine provisions of the Constitution. If elected, I will use this to push for changes in our electoral system, so our TDs are focused on national issues and do not act as glorified county councillors. I will also fight to protect a right to healthcare and housing in the Constitution and to recognise full marriage equality”.

I’m going to run a positive campaign over the next three weeks, focusing on these three issues and how with the skills I possess, I can achieve real progress in these areas over the term of the Dail.