THE HIGH COURT
RECORD NO. 2819P/2007
CATHERINE MURPHY and
THE MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, HERITAGE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, IRELAND AND THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
REPLY TO DEFENCE
DELIVERED THIS 1st DAY OF MAY 2007 BY McGARR SOLICITORS, 12 CITY GATE, LOWER BRIDGE STREET, DUBLIN 8.
1. The Plaintiffs join issue with the Defence of the Defendants save in so far as the same contains admissions.
2. By way of special plea, it is denied that the first named Defendant does not have responsibility for the revision of constituencies or that he is entitled to absolve himself from responsibility. The first named Defendant is the Minister designated by the Electoral Acts as the Minister with responsibility in the area of the electoral system and is the Minister with responsibility for ensuring that whatever steps are necessary (including the bring of amending legislation before the Oireachtas) for compliance with Article 16 of Bunreacht na hÉireann are taken.
3. Furthermore by way of special plea it is denied that the Defendants are entitled to rely on the procedures laid down in the Electoral Act, 1997 or any other Act as a justification for failure to comply with a constitutional obligation, or as a justification for failing to ensure the revision of the electoral constituencies before the dissolution of the 29th Dáil.
4. By way of special plea it is denied that it was not incumbent upon the Defendants to take cognisance of the findings of the Census 2006 Preliminary Report for the purposes of Article 16.2.2 or to procure the revision of the constituencies. Without prejudice to the foregoing, it was at the very least incumbent upon the Defendants upon the Publication of the Preliminary Report to take whatever steps were required to review the constituencies and establish what revisions were necessary, which said revisions could have been enacted by the Oireachtas upon the publication of the final Report.
5. By way of special plea, it is denied that the results set out in the Census 2006 Preliminary Report are inaccurate or that the publication of the same did not require or mandate the Defendants to take action. On the contrary the difference between the results of Census 2006 Preliminary Report and the Final Results are and are known from previous Census to be trivial. It is specifically pleaded that the Oireachtas in 1947 revised constituencies on the basis of a Preliminary Report of census results.
6. By way of special plea it is denied that there is insufficient information available for the purposes of revising the constituencies so as to comply Article 16 of Bunreacht na hÉireann whether in the manner as alleged or at all.
7. It is denied that the figures published by the Central Statistics Office on the 29th March 2007 were not the final census figures or that it is not possible or practicable to revise constituencies without further information or data.
8. By way of reply to paragraph 15 of the Defence it is denied that the process for the revision of constituencies provided for in Part 2 of the Electoral Act, 1997 is a regulation of the manner in which constituencies are revised which is comprehensive, fair, reasonable and proportionate having regard to the constitutional requirements or that it can take precedence over the requirements of the Constitution.
9. By way of reply to paragraph 16 of the Defence, it is denied that the Plaintiffs failed to act promptly or that any such failure (which is denied) is a bar to any of the reliefs claimed by way of plenary proceedings.
10. It is denied that it was not practicable to revise the constituencies whether in the manner as alleged or at all.
11. It is denied that the reliefs claimed are or will be moot whether in the manner as alleged or at all
12. Save as is expressly admitted herein each and every plea as set out in the Defence is denied as if set forth herein and traversed seriatim.
Mark J Dunne
Frank Callanan SC
Gerard Hogan SC