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Constitutional Convention: 26th Jan 2013

5 February 2013 No Comment
Local TD Keating was appointed by the Taoiseach to the Constitutional Convention last December.
This week they discussed the Reducing the  Term of office of the President. and reducing the age of voting from 18 years to 17 years.
Deputy Keating consulted widely before making his non-party submission.
Press Release
Keating says “I have concluded that the Presidential office is undervalued in this State and could be developed into a more exciting part of the Oireachtas. This is best achieved by reducing the term of office to 5 years.”
On the eve of the Constitutional Convention meeting in Malahide, Convention Member Deputy Derek Keating, Fine Gael, calls for the Presidential term of office to be reduced
Before Christmas, I was appointed by the Taoiseach to the Convention on the Constitution under the Chairmanship of Tom Arnold.
The Constitution Convention group made up of representatives from the public, the Oireachtas and Vocational groups has been summoned to its first working meeting for two days this coming weekend in the Grand Hotel in Malahide 26th and 27th Jan.
I have worked over the Christmas period to examine the two topics that will be discussed this weekend. They are the
  • Term of the Presidency to be reduced from 7 years to 5 years
  • To consider should the voting age be reduced from 18 to 17 years.
Having considered widely and also consulted with my team,
“I have concluded that the Presidential office is undervalued in this State and could be developed into a more exciting part of the Oireachtas.”
The facts are says Keating,  that, during the last Presidential Election, a 17 year old who did not have an opportunity to vote in the Presidential Election could be 31 years of age before an opportunity would arise again if President Higgins was not challenged.
I have also raised that we are unique in Europe and throughout the democratic world of having a Presidency that lasts 7 years. I have submitted to my colleagues and to the Convention that a 7 year term has the capacity to harbour cynicism, ineffectiveness and indeed a reluctance by the Executive to utilise the talents, gifts and availability of the President.
I am therefore, submitting to the Chairman, the other members of the Convention the views I have received from many constituents that the Office of the Presidency should be reduced to 5 years and considerable development of the functions of the Office should be considered by the Government.
I am concerned about the function of the President and his power to refuse to dissolve the Dáil in circumstances when a Taoiseach has failed to retain the support of a majority of the House. However, the President has no function to summon anybody else from Leinster House to discuss with them the formation of a Government.
This was highlighted, as I have outlined in my submission, in 1982 when contact was made with Paddy Hillery, President of Ireland, in relation to exercising this power.
I think this will also give the Government an opportunity to consider the process of how a person becomes a candidate for Presidential Elections.
President of Ireland can enjoy immunity from being sued in relation to the exercise of his or her powers but there has been some debate on whether the President can be criticised.
You will recall that President O’Dalaigh resigned following a criticism of his exercise under Article 26 when he was criticised by the then Minister for Defence, Paddy Donegan, in 1976.
I also conclude that the examination of Bills and the submission to the Supreme Court by the President has its difficulties and needs to be reviewed.
I am delighted to be part of this Convention and I believe it is serving a great service to both the Oireachtas and to the State and I look forward to the weekend’s discussions when I will have an opportunity to develop my views as outlined says Derek Keating TD.
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