There is going to be a lot of revisionism and distorting of the facts in the next four weeks and I am sure we’ll be catching and factchecing a lot of claims along the way. Some of it is off before the campaign has begun, no surprise there!
On Friday Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, was speaking on the Finance Bill which was before the Seanad. He explained the matter of the non inclusion of measures pertaining to Civil Partnership in the bill thus
The Bill embodies the various budgetary measures but it also contains other provisions, as finance Bills necessarily do. However, it does not include all the matters which would have been contained in the original Finance Bill. Indeed, the question of civil partnership, which was agitated here during the year as well, arose on the Finance Bill because the solemnisation of civil partnerships begins from 1 April this year and it would have been desirable to have had a finance Bill clarifying the tax status of these relationships in advance of that. Work was far advanced in my Department on preparing the necessary amendments which involved 150 statutory provisions to give effect to that. However, as it happens, it will not be possible in the limited time available to us to table those amendments and while I am sure some Senators will breathe a sigh of relief that the matter will not be freshly agitated in Seanad Éireann, it seems undesirable with the status now coming into force on 1 April and that those who contract accordingly do not have clarity about their tax status.
Senator Mary M. White: We swept it through the Seanad.
Deputy Brian Lenihan: The different parties can deal with that. It was extraordinary that the Green Party, which made such an effort at pushing the question, could not find it in its heart to give the Government another week or two to arrange for that. These are matters of political consideration. They are not matters relating to the Finance Bill.
Didn’t the Green Party withdraw from government because of the shenanigans that was Cowen trying to replace 6 ministers in his cabinet 2 months before an election was due to take place and they had enough? Also after the discussions between all parties to arrange the debate on the Finance Bill Joan Burton reported that the minister said that the sections on the bill would not be ready for another month. And of course the Minister’s department had 6 months to get the legislation ready!
I’m not a defender of the Green Party but I called electioneering spoofery when I heard this from Lenihan. The Greens were not so happy either as you might imagine given that they are claiming credit for the legislation.
Dan Boyle responded in the debate
I am disappointed with one thing the Minister said in respect of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. He intimated that if the Green Party had given this Government another two to three weeks of artificial life, the measures in respect of that Act would have been brought into the Bill. I understand that at the meeting of all party spokespersons a few days ago, it was commonly accepted that the 150 amendments relating to the Act can be introduced in the finance (No.2) Bill, which can be passed before 1 April. I would like to see every political party commit to that. I welcome the fact that the Minister said he was surprised at the Green Party being seen in this position as the Green Party had pushed most strongly for the civil partnership legislation. This is something I did not hear from the relevant Minister at the time when he was finishing the debate on the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010.
Later the deputy leader of the Green Party, Mary White, issued a statement also rejecting the ministers assertions and had a dig at Dermot Ahern while she was at it.
“For Minister Lenihan to imply that it is our fault that the taxation provisions on civil partnership will have to be brought in after the election is a complete mischaracterisation of the situation,” she added.
“Minister Lenihan knows that as soon as the Green Party entered government, we immediately began engagement with the Department of Justice, of which he was then Minister, to progress the issue of Civil Partnership.
“We have always felt that the bill could have been progressed much more quickly, but that there was a reluctance in the Department of Justice, particularly after Minister Lenihan left, to prioritise the legislation,”
The Green Party by the way have sent copy of their advertisement for the civil partnership edition of GCN as further proof of their committment.
More anon on the various election manifestos pertaining to equality as they are launched.