As well as the Presidential election and the by-election in Dublin West, there will also be two very important Referendums put to the people on October 27th; the Judicial Pay Referendum and the Abbeylara Referendum.
Judicial Pay Referendum
Under Article 35.5 of the Constitution, judges are not subject to the same measures others who are paid from the public purse are. As a result, despite the salaries of public servants being reduced twice in 2009, the judiciary were exempt from these cuts due to this Constitutional clause. A number of judges made voluntary waivers of their salary in line with the public sector cuts, however not all took this initiative.
This referendum is seeking to give the state the power to reduce judicial pay in the context of general salary reductions. This would mean that judges, like all those who are paid from the public purse, would be subject to the same reductions that have been made, or will be made in the future.
Across the EU national parliaments have the power to conduct full inquiries. This is not the case in Ireland however since the 2002 Supreme Court decision in the Abbeylara case.
Allowing Parliamentary committees to conduct inquiries will mean that they will have a central role in the performance of our public administration. Not only this, but it will be less costly than tribunals or other methods of enquiry. We already know that these inquiries can be done well as prior to the 2002 decision we had successful inquires such as the DIRT inquiry.
A Bill has been published by the Labour Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, and the Bill outlines how the process would work. Labour in Government has been working hard to ensure that our public administration is transparent and fully accountable and if passed, the Abbeylara Referendum will go a step further to ensure that proper inquiries are conducted.