Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

A referendum conundrum

It’s a big polling day next Thursday. Not only do we get to elect a new president (you can follow all the #aras11 shenanigans on Twitter), there’s also a by-election here in Dublin West (most notable for the sad fact that Barry Caesar Hunt — that tosser from The Apprentice — is in the running) as well as two constitutional referenda, on the pay of judges and inquiries by the Oireachtas, that have received virtually no significant media coverage in recent weeks. I mean, I read the news online every day and I only found out about them a week ago!

About that second referendum… I’m broadly in favour of the Oireachtas being allowed to conduct its own inquiries into matters of public interest, but this bit about ‘findings which affect a person’s good name’ has me concerned.

Yes, it’s categorically stated that parliamentary findings will have no criminal sanctions in and of themselves, which is fine and dandy. But in the potential case of a private citizen being defamed by implication in such an inquiry, it’s not very clear to me how they could seek redress.

Is it even possible for an individual to be defamed by the Oireachtas? Would the Dáil or Seanad be immune from prosecution? There’s roundabout talk of ‘principles of fair procedures’, but that’s not specific enough for me.

Anyone else have any thoughts?