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Eamon Gilmore Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Gilmore defends referendums after AGs urge 'No' vote

Eight former attorneys general signed a public letter saying that the two constitutional amendments will endanger individual rights and judicial independence.

TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has defended the constitutional amendments in the upcoming referendum after several former attorneys general urged a ‘No’ vote.

In the letter to all newspapers today, eight former AGs say they are “strongly opposed” to the measures to reduce judges’ pay and enable Oireachtas inquiries.

The first amendment will compromise the independence of the judiciary, according to the letter, while the second “seriously weakens the rights of individual citizens”.

Attorneys general from several recent governments are among the signatories, including Michael McDowell, Peter Sutherland and Paul Gallagher.

However, Gilmore this morning rejected the lawyers’ criticisms, branding it “nonsense” that judicial independence would be endangered.

“All that is being provided for her is a very reasonable proposal that judges take a proportionate [pay] reduction in line with everyone else,” he said.

The Tánaiste also insisted that the protection of individual rights is already “enshrined” in the wording of the referendum on Oireachtas inquiries.

He said people would still be entitled to go to the courts to ensure their rights were protected. “All we are talking about is the same kind of parliamentary investigation as we have in other countries,” Gilmore told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

The attorney generals stated that they support judicial pay reductions in principle, but object to the wording of the amendment.

Read more: What are the two referendums about? Your guide to the 27 October ballot>

Column: A ‘Yes’ vote on Oireachtas inquiries will bring us a vital democratic function>

Column: Cutting judges’ pay has a price – and it’s not worth it>

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