Politicians must not be above the law says Higgins

Archaic laws protecting Oireachtas members from being punished for certain offences, such as for speeding or arrest when going to, or returning from, Leinster House, must be abolished.

This is the view of Labour’s Galway senator Lorraine Higgins, who, echoing the late Margaret Thatcher’s “Crime is crime is crime” quote, said: “Politicians should not be exempt from the full rigours of the law. A crime is a crime in any language.”

The senator made her call following recent controversies of politicians being let off from penalty points after being found speeding or using a mobile phone while driving.

“Under Article 15.13 of the Constitution, Oireachtas members are privileged from arrest when going to, or returning from, Leinster House, or indeed while within the confines of Leinster House,” the Athenry based barrister said. “The Gardaí have a right to arrest people who commit crimes, and they do so based on prima facie evidence that is available to them. This Article of the Constitution however, effectively puts Oireachtas members outside the confines of the law.”

Sen Higgins now wants this element of the Constitution to be discussed as part of the ongoing Constitutional Convention.

“Politicians should not be immune from arrest if they commit a crime on their way to or leaving Leinster House to attend parliamentary business,” she said. “Allowing this to continue is an obstruction of justice.”

 

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