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Kenny promises autumn referendum on Oireachtas committee powers

A referendum giving renewed powers of investigation to Oireachtas committees will be held with the Presidental election.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has confirmed to the Dáil that a referendum, giving Oireachtas committees the power to compel witnesses to attend their meetings, will be put to the public alongside the Presidential election.

The disclosure comes on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that a referendum allowing the reduction of judges’ pay will be put alongside the election to succeed Mary McAleese.

That election, and the two referenda, are due in late October or early November.

Responding to questions from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams in the Dáil this lunchtime, Kenny confirmed that a referendum enshrining the investigative powers of committees – as had been promised in the programme for government – would be put to the people alongside the other two ballots.

The only task to be fulfilled in the meantime was to devise the “legislation and the question to support that”, the Taoiseach said.

The investigative role of Oireachtas committees was called into focus by a 2001 High Court ruling which found that an Oireachtas sub-committee did not have the power to make factual findings or express opinions adverse to the good name of a citizen.

The Oireachtas committee had been examining the death of a Longford man who was shot dead by Gardaí after a siege at his home in Abbeylara, Co Longford – a placename which has informally lent its name to that ruling.

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Gavan Reilly

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