On Thursday, aside from the relatively unimportant freakshow that has been the presidential election, we have two important votes on amending the constitution.
On the proposal to allow the government to reduce the pay of judges, I’m voting yes. The arguments against, that it will reduce judicial independence, have an air of “Never mind if it will work in practice, will it work in theory?” about them. I have yet to meet a single legal minded person who can give me a concrete example of how the proposal would make judges more open to tampering than they are now. After all, the government controls the appointment and promotion of judges. In particular, the desire of judges to make it to the supreme court must be a far more appetizing ground for government pressure than their pay. Or are our judges only honest because there is a threshold, money wise, where they suddenly come up for trade? I actually have more faith in our judges, and that’s why I’m voting yes.
As for the second vote, I can understand the need to deal with Abbeylara. However, my problems are this: 1) I have no faith in the Oireachtas setting out “fair procedure”. What elected member of the house will stand up for a banker or property developer to get a fair hearing? Don’t forget, they may come for the bankers now, but who is to say Taoiseach Varadkar won’t come for the trades union leaders in the future? Secondly, I don’t like the fact that a majority of the house is needed to set up the investigation, because that means that the government, who controls the majority, will never set up an investigation to investigate anything it has done, or is doing.
Finally, ask yourself: Would you be happy giving Charlie Haughey this power? If CJH had this power, he would have had Des O’Malley and Garret Fitzgerald up in front of a kangaroo court for “conduct unbecoming an Irish citizen”. Enda and Eamonn are decent guys. But there’s no guarantee that Taoiseach Adams will be. Vote No, let them fix it, and we’ll vote again next year with the Children’s Rights referendum. Everybody wins.