DUBLIN -- Unlike the rigorous method used in the States to draft, review, pass and approve legislation into law, the Irish government often rams through change when appointed ministers pencil-whip their ideas into law. For that reason alone, the current Irish system excels in the realm of institutionalised arrogance.
In fairness, most politicians are so aware of backlash at the parish pump that they are "open to consultation." In many occasions, that means paying millions of euro in fees for professional services or setting aside thousands of work hours to listen to union leaders yammer away. It also means paying barristers to take your case to court against the government, as in the case of the M50 Motorway versus the Carrickmines Ruins.
Front page news gives victory to the ruins, as Mr Justice Kearns said the legality of a motorway construction project involved whether primary legislation could be amended by secondary legislation (regulations or ministerial orders). He found it could not. This means the government overstepped its bounds when it subordinated the Office of Public Works to the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht and then further flattened the function to the Department of the Environment. It is difficult to find the Minister for the Environment wearing anything other than a hard hat.
So there's a moment of pauses as the Minister for the Environment burns the weekend oil drafting language for a new law that enshrines his one-stop road-paving service into an institution. While that will help me circumvent Dublin on a second world-class (no median barriers installed) motorway, the process of the work closes down any appeal by archeologists or environmentalists. Such will be the legacy of Fianna Fail, the government of the Irish Celtic Tiger.
Mark Hennessy -- "Latest Carrickmines court ruling may require new law" on The Irish Times front page, 30 Jan 04.