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‘A very serious constitutional problem’ – Politicians cannot pass any new laws after Sunday

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POLITICIANS will be unable to pass any new laws after this Sunday creating a “very serious constitutional problem”, the Dáil Ceann Comhairle has warned.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl has confirmed that without a newly-elected Taoiseach’s 11 nominees to the new Seanad, the Oireachtas will not be able to pass any new legislation after this weekend.

It comes as Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are to continue talks today to form a Government as the country grapples with the unprecedented public health and economic emergency posed by Covid-19.

In an email to Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry, Mr Ó Fearghaíl said the failure of political parties to form a government and elect a new Taoiseach means that normal parliamentary business and conventional modes of accountability are “circumscribed”.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl has confirmed that it is not possible for the new Seanad, which will be elected next week, to meet until a Taoiseach elected by the current Dáil is in place and can nominate 11 members to complete the 60-seat upper house.

He confirmed the position, based on legal advice he has received, in an email to Mr MacSharry which was forwarded to Fianna Fáil TDs last night.

“Given that Dáil Éireann has yet to nominated a Taoiseach for appointment by Uachtarán na hÉireann, it is not possible for the current Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD to make the eleven nominations which in turn means it is not possible for the new Seanad to meet,” Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.

“This obviously gives rise to a very serious constitutional problem: from midnight next Sunday 29 March 2020, the Houses of the Oireachtas will not be able to pass legislation. “Given the profound implications of this, I am sure that the Taoiseach, Party and Group Leaders will want to address this serious legislative incapacity at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The email comes on foot of the Government being advised by the Attorney General that it will not be able to pass legislation through the Oireachtas after next week as the new Seanad will not be properly constituted without the Taoiseach’s 11 nominees.

The secretary general of the Department of the Taoiseach Martin Fraser gave a similar warning at a meeting of party leaders earlier this week.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl was responding to an email from Mr MacSharry in which the Sligo-Leitrim TD also raised concerns about the functioning of the Dáíl under the current restrictions in place as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Dáil chairman, who was re-elected last month, said he has approved a new submissions system for TDs to make written submissions on legislation that will be laid before the Dáil.

He said he is also examining new arrangements so that members can continue to express views in the chamber.

From The Irish Independent.