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President summons Council of State to discuss banking Bill

The President may refer the new Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill to the Supreme Court if she thinks it constitutional.

Mary McAleese will convene the Council of State on Tuesday to discuss whether the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill is constitutional or not.
Mary McAleese will convene the Council of State on Tuesday to discuss whether the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill is constitutional or not.
Image: AP Photo/POLFOTO, Tobias Noergaard Pedersen

PRESIDENT MARY MCALEESE is to convene a meeting of the Council of State next Tuesday, to discuss whether a new bill which would grant the Minister for Finance powers to single-handedly appoint new managers to state-funded banks.

The Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill, which was passed by the Dáil on Wednesday and by the Seanad on Thursday, was yesterday sent to McAleese for her early signature after the Seanad gave its blessing to a government proposal seeking an immediate enactment.

After considering the legislation, however, the President decided to exercise her Constitutional right to convene the Council of State, which will now meet and help her decide whether anything contained in the Bill is in conflict with the Constitution.

After the meeting, McAleese may either decide to sign the Bill, or refer it to the Supreme Court – under Article 26 of the Constitution – to test whether the Bill is Constitutional or not. If the Supreme Court gives the Bill its blessing, it is then immune from any legal challenge in future.

The legislation had been criticised by opposition parties, with Michael Noonan and Joan Burton both raising issue with the sweeping powers the Bill would empower the Minister with.

Burton, in particular, told the Dáil that the Bill would turn the Minister into a “one-man legislature”.

McAleese has convened the Council of State to discuss legislation on five previous occasions, examining seven pieces of legislation.

What is the Council of State?

The Council of State is a body established under the Constitution to assist the President in deciding whether proposed legislation passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas is in accordance with the Constitution.

The President can seek a meeting of the Council at their discretion, but given the volume of legislation ultimately signed, such meetings are reasonably rare.

The 22 members of the Council include the current Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Chief Justice, President of the High Court, Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and Attorney General.

It also includes any former Chief Justices, Taoisigh and Presidents who are willing to sit on it, and seven other members appointed by the President.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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