Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Too many FFFGGG piggies 🐷 🐷 🐷 slurping Euros 💶 from the trough? 18 ministers at Cabinet is ‘fairly obviously unconstitutional’ and politically ‘dubious’

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Bunreacht na hÉireann states: “The Government shall consist of not less than 7 and not more than 15 members.”

The FFFGGG coalition has a deserved reputation for letting ministerial piggies 🐷 loose to slurp at a trough stuffed with Euros 💶. Greed causes the party leaders to ignore clear and simple rules about how many ministers can be appointed – the constitution states the maximum number is 15 – and no other politicians can attend cabinet meetings. Three “super junior” mini-ministers – already in hot water for getting a pay 💰 hike – are attending cabinet meetings – according to the attached article this practice is probably unconstitutional and illegal. This might look like an obscure technical point – but it might be a gift 🎁 to radical left deputies denied 🙅 decent speaking rights in the current Dáil. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

FFFGGG super-junior ministers Chambers Naughton and Hackett

The legal side: ‘Crystal clear’ and confidentiality

“Most of the time with constitutional law, there’s a great deal of ambiguity and it’s really unclear what the constitutional answer is,” says David Kenny, Assistant Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin and co-author of the leading text on Irish constitutional law.

“This is one of those ones where I think it’s very clear that there’s essentially no scope for having more than 15 members of government. The Constitution is crystal clear about that, there’s just no way to have more than that.”

Confidentiality is also enshrined in the Constitution, meaning that you can’t have non-Cabinet members involved in the deliberations of Cabinet.

Article 28.1 of Bunreacht na hÉireann states simply:

“The Government shall consist of not less than seven and not more than fifteen members who shall be appointed by the President in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

Article 28.4 alludes to the confidentiality and collective responsibility of Cabinet:

“The Government shall meet and act as a collective authority, and shall be collectively responsible for the Departments of State administered by the members of the Government.

The confidentiality of discussions at meetings of the Government shall be respected in all circumstances save only where the High Court determines that disclosure should be made in respect of a particular matter.”

Kenny continues: “So the question is how are these junior ministers both allowed to be subject to these confidential discussions and involved in these meetings, where only 15 people are supposed to collectively wield the executive power of the State?”

So I think it’s fairly obviously unconstitutional.

https://www.thejournal.ie/government-more-than-15-members-at-cabinet-5163806-Aug2020/

Thanks to Raymond Deane who drew attention to this problem.

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