Friday, July 12, 2013

High Court challenge to Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill rejected as the Bill is currently under consideration

A last minute attempt was made yesterday to halt the progress of the “Protection of Life in Pregnancy Bill 2013. The challenge related to provisions of the legislation on which the people had previously given their decision in referendum and which consequently could not be altered without referral back to the people. The High Court was President Nicholas Kearns rejected the application on the basis that the issue was currently live in Dail Eireannn but nevertheless entered the challenge into the High Court record. The litigant was told by that since the matter is currently on the floor of Leinster House the courts have no entitlement whatsoever to interfere at this stage.

The litigant Jane Murphy from Dublin approached the bench and submitted papers asking the High Court President for leave to stop the government usurping the will of the Irish people.
In intended proceedings against Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Health Minister James Reilly and the Government, the litigants sought injunctions "to prevent the respondents usurping the will of the Irish people on the basis"that provisions which stand rejected by the Irish people in a referendum cannot be included in proposed legislation, nor can they be voted on by the Oireachtas".

President Kearns said he was satisfied he did not have the jurisdiction to grant any such relief as the matter was the preserve of the legislature. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers the courts have no authority to intervene at this stage, he said.

The Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and the Ceann Comhairle of the Dail were all put on notice in advance that two elements of the bill currently before the House are unconstitutional because they were previously been rejected by the people, who are Sovereign. Independent TD Mattie McGrath also informed the House during the debate on the Bill

The group, which also included former MEP Kathy Sinnott and Richard Green and Mark McCrystal subsequently gave a press conference at the gates of Leinster House.

Mark McCrystal was previously successful in challenging unconstitutional action by the Irish Government in the Children’s Rights Referendum when he was granted a declaration that the State acted wrongfully in spending public money on the website, information booklets and advertisements in relation to the referendum.