It seems the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Bill is in trouble. Not only does the President think it could be constitutionally questionable, the ECB is expressing the same concern. The key clause is in section 53 of the bill:
The provisions of this Act, and any order made under this Act, have effect notwithstanding anything in—
(a) the Companies Acts, the Building Societies Act 1989, the Credit Union Act 1997 or any other enactment,
(b) any other rule of law or equity,
(c) any code of practice made under an enactment,
(d) the listing rules of any regulated market or the rules of any other market on which the shares of a relevant institution may be traded from time to time,
(e) the memorandum of association and articles of association of a relevant institution, or
(f) any agreement to which such an institution or any of its subsidiaries is a party, is bound by, or has an interest in, except to any extent to which this Act expressly provides otherwise.
Objectors claim that the Minister will be granted powers which have legislative strength actions that must be bound by those laws which govern the market and banking, but not the Oireachtas. That’s what President Mary McAleese’s Council of State must adjudicate on tomorrow.
So why does the bill matter? Well, this legislation gives the government power to make demands on those Irish banks that have refused to reveal to the minister their true financial state. It is therefore a critical piece of legislation which in its intention at least could have won overwhelming support in both houses of the Oireachtas.
In last Thursday’s Late Debate Joe Costello of Labour was first to raise the possibility that the government’s guillotining of the bill in the Dail after only a few hours has given it little opportunity to compliance test it.
In fact the opposition (which would normally be given a week to review such legislation, and then another week after the initial debate to suggest amendments) was barely given sight of the draft bill before it entered the house and a government guillotine ensured it cleared all stages in just five hours.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty