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All-Party Oireachtas Commitee on the Constitution: Seventh Progress Report - Parliament

 

FOREWORD

This report marks a further stage in the committees examination of the Constitution, and in particular of Articles dealing with the institutions of state.

The National Parliament is called the Oireachtas in the Constitution and consists of the President and the two Houses, Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann.

Our report deals with the two Houses of the Oireachtas. We have already dealt with the office of President in our Third Progress Report. This report therefore deals with Articles 15 to 25. We have dealt with Article 26 in the Fourth Progress Report: The Courts and the Judiciary.

Following the conclusion of the Good Friday Agreement, the Taoiseach asked the committee to examine how people living in Northern Ireland might play a more active part in national political life.   The committee considered that this issue and the cognate issue of emigrant participation in our political institutions could be dealt with most effectively in the context of these Articles.

Our first chapter sets out the broad approach we have taken to the role played by Parliament in our national life.  Our prime focus is on the Constitution itself.  A general point which we seek to underline in this and in other chapters is that in many instances even quite radical reform, if felt desirable, would not require any amendment of the Constitution.

Chapter 2 addresses a number of issues relating to the Dáil, primarily the electoral system. Chapter 3 revisits the committees Second Progress Report of 1997 on the Seanad. Chapter 4 is concerned with the questions of Northern Ireland and emigrant representation.

For ease of presentation, the committee decided to draw a distinction between those issues it regards as likely to be politically sensitive which, as outlined above, are addressed in chapters 2, 3 and 4, and those of a more technical character, proposals in regard to which are grouped together in chapter 5.

Brian Lenihan T.D.
Chairman
March 2002

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