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Referendums confirmed on Oireachtas inquiries and judges' pay

Minister Phil Hogan has suggested that unemployed people could be given jobs at polling stations during the ballots.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

MINISTER PHIL HOGAN has today officially signed off on two upcoming constitutional referendums – one to give extra powers to Oireachtas inquiries, and the other to cut judges’ pay.

As expected, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government made an order setting October 27 – the date of the presidential election – as polling day on the two proposals.

The proposed measure to cut judges’ pay – officially known as the Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Judges’ Remuneration) Bill 2011 – will see judicial salaries made subject to the same cuts as other public sector workers. At present, the government has no power to reduce judges’ pay, although most judges have already taken a voluntary cut.

Justice minister Alan Shatter has said the measure will save €5.5million a year.

The second proposal involves measures increasing the powers of the Oireachtas to conduct inquiries into “matters which relate to the common good”. It has been suggested that the new powers could help investigations into the banking crisis.

Speaking today, Minister Hogan also said that returning officers – who must organise staff at polling stations across the country – should try and help Ireland’s jobless by employing them for the day and during counts.

He said: “While the efficient conduct of polls and the count is clearly dependent on having sufficiently skilled and experienced people, I would ask all local returning officers to make a special effort to employ suitable persons who are unemployed.”

Read more: Referendum will leave door open for banking inquiry>

Read more: Retired judge to oversee referendum on judges’ pay>

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Michael Freeman

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