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Irish Referendum Commission responds to NUJ letter

26 October 2011

The Referendum Commission in Ireland has responded to a letter sent to it by the NUJ's Irish Secretary, Séamus Dooley.

The NUJ wrote to the Commission to express members concerns about a proposed amendment to the Irish constitution would allow the Oireachtas, "with due regard to the principles of fair procedure", to "determine the balance between the rights of persons and the public interest".

The Commission wrote:

Dear Mr Dooley,

The Chairperson of the Referendum Commission has asked me to reply on his behalf to your email which he received this morning.

The 30th Amendment, if passed, will grant the Houses of the Oireachtas express power to conduct inquiries into matters of general public importance and make findings of fact in respect of the conduct of any person investigated.

In conducting such inquiries, the Dáil and/or the Seanad would have the power to determine the appropriate balance between the rights of people involved in the inquiry and the requirements of the public interest. In striking this balance they would be required to have due regard to the principles of fair procedures; these principles have been established by the Constitution and the Courts.

In relation to your question concerning detail of how the Oireachtas would conduct such an inquiry, answers must await passage of legislation on foot of the proposed amendment, if passed, and any subsequent relevant judgments by the Courts.

The Chairperson thanks you for email and interest in this matter and regrets that he cannot be more specific in his reply.

Yours sincerely,

David Waddell
Commission Secretary
Referendum Commission

Tags: , referendum commission, protection of sources, confidentiality, constitutional amendment, parliament ireland