Callely v Moylan and others, [2014] IESC 26 (2014)

Docket Number:69/11
Judge:Murray J.

THE SUPREME COURT[Appeal No: 069/2011]

Denham C.J.

Murray J.

Hardiman J.

Fennelly J.

O'Donnell J.

McKechnie J.

Clarke J.


Ivor CallelyApplicant/Respondentand

Pat Moylan, Dan Boyle, Frances Fitzgerald, Camillus Glynn,

Denis O'Donovan, Joe O'Toole, and Alex White (Members of the Select Committee on Members' Interests of Seanad Éireann), Committee on Members' Interests of Seanad Éireann and Seanad ÉireannRespondents/Appellants

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice Murray delivered the 9th day of April 2014.

  1. I have concluded, as three other members of the Court have also concluded, that the first ground of appeal of the appellants should fail, namely, their contention that the courts have no power or jurisdiction to review the legality or constitutionality of the procedures followed by the appellants and their decision which led to the disciplinary action against the respondent. First of all, with regards to that particular issue, there are a number of concurring observations which I wish to make.


  2. “The whole tenor of our Constitution is to the effect that there is no power, institution or person in the land free of the law save where such immunity is expressed, or provided for, in the Constitution.” (Byrne v. Ireland [1972] I.R. 281, Walsh J.)

  3. Each House of the Oireachtas, like other organs of State such as the executive and judicial branches of government, derive their powers from the people pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution.

  4. These powers must be exercised in accordance with the Constitution. Hence, a State founded on the rule of law.

  5. “An independent judiciary guarantees that the organs of State conduct themselves in accordance with the rule of law.” (Judgment of the Court in Curtin v. Dail Eireann [2006] 2 I.R. 556 at 617).

  6. In this appeal the first and primary argument made by the appellants puts in issue the fundamentals of the foregoing constitutional tenets. The above named appellants argue on this first issue that when a committee of the Oireachtas, in this case a Seanad Committee, exercises a disciplinary power to make findings of wrongdoing involving a consequential suspension or fine of a member of the Oireachtas it is a power to be exclusively exercised by them according as they consider appropriate without any answerability or review by the courts concerning the lawfulness or constitutionality of the process or decisions concerned. It is, it was claimed, for the Committee of the Oireachtas itself to judge its own conformity with the law and the Constitution.

  7. In broad terms the contention of the respondents is that it...

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