President signed Bills

I was disappointed to learn today that President McAleese signed both the Defamation Bill 2006 and the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009 into law. The president of the Republic has only two non-ceremonial powers. One is to refuse a Taoiseach's request to dissolve the Dail and the other is to refer a potentially unconstitutional law to the Supreme Court. One would think that since both of these laws were so controversial that they would have been worth testing.

In fact the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009 is probably exactly the kind of law that the framers of the constitution would have had in mind when they wrote it. The President's role is to protect the people and against any government that might attempt to trample on their basic rights. But President McAleese is not the kind of president that is going to rock the boat or stand up to the government. She never was.

The people of Ireland are slightly less safe now and their civil liberties are damaged. Hopefully the Supreme Court will repair them in due course. I wonder though if the presidency itself is now damaged beyond repair.


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