The David Hall v Ireland (thats you) case in the High Court, where the founder of LifeLine Ambulances and campaigner for mortgage relief is challenging the legality of the Anglo Promissory Notes, took what seems to me to be a surreal twist today. The basis of his argument is as far as I understand that the Oireachtas didnt vote these wretched scraps into existence they were created by the Minister as an executive act, and as that involves the expenditure of money thats a power reserved to the legislature not the executive.
Coming towards the end of a long day of argument which saw Anne Nolan of the Department of Finance sprung into the witness box as a surprise additional extra, the argument from Michael McDowell ran as follows….The Promissory Notes are a creation of Dail Eireann. David Hall is a citizen. As a mere citizen the state claims that he has no right to in effect act on behalf of the Oireachtas against the Executive. A citizen qua citizen has no role or right to ensure that the two parts act properly. Mmmkaaaay
Mr McDowell further suggested (remember folks, he is acting, legally speaking, for you and me…) that apart from a mere citizen not having any rights to get between the Oireachtas and the Executive, the only people who did were TD’s. The President of the High Court then noted that no TD had stepped up to date.
Now, I Am Not A Lawyer but it seems to me that as a citizen I have not just the right but the duty to hold to account the executive and the legislature if they are acting unconstitutionally. The debate noted the Crotty case, and McDowell (arguing for you people, its for you own good) noted that Crotty was a citizen and the case affected the constitution and thus all citizens. He noted that while the wretched notes had a “far reaching” impact, it didnt matter whether the executive did the deed or the oireachtas, as the effect would have been the same. In effect this second guesses the Oireachtas saying that it would have created the wretched notes. And hes probably right. But we will never know. It would be sweet to see the government trying to get a vote on these through now….