505 witnesses attended almost 200 meetings, with over twenty reports published
The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality David Stanton TD has taken stock of Committee work during this Dáil term. The Joint Committee has met 121 times since the 2011 General Election while the Dáil Select Committee has met 44 times. Meanwhile, the Sub-Committee Penal Reform met eight times while the sub-Committee Human Rights met four times. The Committee has also considered 32 EU Motions.
Deputy David Stanton TD, who chairs the Committee, commended the cross party membership for an intense period of work. In recent months, the Committee published reports on a wide range of topics, including on the bankruptcy term, drug policy, refugee status and firearms. “As the summer recess approaches, I wish to take this opportunity to thank colleagues on the Committee and officials in the Committee Secretariat for their cooperation and dedication on what has been an extraordinarily busy period of work for the Justice Committee. I also wish to acknowledge the 505 witnesses have appeared before the Committee during this term. Their distinct perspectives have fed into legislation and policy, enriching our work.”
Deputy Stanton says that the Committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny of twenty draft Bills (listed below) is an example of parliamentary work at its best. “Pre-legislative scrutiny is often a technical process which doesn’t gain a huge amount of media attention. However, it has served to strengthen the legislative process in the Houses of the Oireachtas. It allows for input from Oireachtas members into legislation at an early stage, in particular providing the Heads of the Bill to Oireachtas committees and giving those committees the opportunity and time to examine and consult on the topic."
He says that the public dimension is ensuring that genuinely participative democracy is taking hold in the Committee Rooms. “Public consultations ensure a meaningful public engagement in law-making, by providing an opportunity for individuals or groups of citizens with expertise in the relevant subject-area, or other interest groups, to engage with the legislative process at an early stage. The process also informs later evaluation of the Bills when published, with committee Chairpersons given speaking time at Second Stage to present the committee’s pre-legislative scrutiny of a Bill.”