“Dáil and Seanad Éireann are playing an increasingly important role in determining Ireland’s approach to European Union policy and legislation” says Roche.
"Dáil and Seanad Éireann are playing an increasingly important role in determining Ireland’s approach to European Union policy and legislation" says Roche.Opening the debate on the special report on new EU legislation by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Scrutiny, Minster Dick Roche said:
"Since the European Scrutiny act was passed into law in 2002, the Dáil and Seanad have, through the Oireachtas Joint Committees played an increasingly important role in determining the direction and shape of Ireland’s response to EU policy proposals.
The Members from the Dáil and Seanad on the Scrutiny Committee and indeed on the Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Affairs have served this country well. They bring views from across the political spectrum to bear on the scrutiny process. Their work is open and transparent. They operate in public. It is a matter of some regret to me that their work does not receive the public attention that it deserves.
I would in this regard appeal to RTÉ in particular to find space to cover the work of these committees. Their work has been largely ignored by the national broadcaster. That I feel is not acceptable. RTÉ is supported by the broadcasting license fee because it is a public service broadcaster with a public service obligation.
The public in Ireland have a right to know that there has been a fundamental change in the manner in which EU proposals are subject to scrutiny by both Houses of the Oireachtas.
Because of the lack of coverage, particularly on the national broadcaster, of the work of the scrutiny committees, the type of mythology that was peddled in the recent Referendum that somehow or other law making within the European Union is removed from the democratic processes can take hold.
It would be interesting to tot up the number of minutes that the head of the Libertas organisation, an organisation with absolutely no democratic mandate, has been afforded over the last say three months and to compare the air time that that unelected individual has been afforded, to the amount of air time which has been given to democratically elected members of Oireachtas committees do in scrutinising EU legislation.
What is particularly exasperating is the fact that a Eurosceptic organisation such as Libertas is allowed, without challenge, to make assertions regarding the democratic processes which are completely untrue while the committees who worked so hard on behalf of the people of this country are virtually ignored.
The report which is before us today clearly demonstrates that the work of the Scrutiny Committee is varied and wide, covers the entire spectrum of EU legislation and, more importantly, it demonstrates the completely democratic processes which operate within the EU law making system. The report before us highlights the ways in which the European Union legislative process works, how the Irish Government is able to take up positions and to lobby to ensure the concerns of our citizens are factored into the proposals which come forward from the European community. The report clearly shows that there is nothing mysterious in the process despite the false claims of those who seek to demonise the EU’s work.
Those who wish to demonise the work of the European Union can only do so if there is a deficit of public information. Today I am calling particularly on the national broadcaster to ensure that the work of committees such as the work we are discussing today is given fair coverage. The Irish people are entitled to nothing less."
20 November 2008Top