June 2013

Ronan Cormacain, one of the Directors at the Sir William Dale Legislative Drafting Clinic, was recently praised in the Northern Ireland Assembly for his legislative drafting skills. As well as helping to run the Clinic, Ronan is a consultant legislative counsel. He recently drafted the Civil Service (Special Advisers) Bill as a private members' bill on behalf of the Bill Office of the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Bill was a politically contentious one on the eligibility of persons with a serious criminal conviction to act as special advisers to Northern Ireland Ministers.

Mr Jim Allister MLA, the sponsor of the Bill, said this at the opening of the Final Stage of the Bill on 3 June 2013. The Official Report (Hansard) is at: 

"I begin by paying tribute to the staff of the House, particularly those in the Bill Office and Legal Services, and the parliamentary draughtsmen for the exceptionally efficient and professional way in which they performed their duties in respect of the Bill. 

Whatever happens with the Bill, I have acquired a very high regard for the work level, ethic and sheer professionalism of the Bill Office staff and those involved in those matters. In the almost two years or so that this Bill has been in the offing, I still have no idea of what the personal view of any of the staff that I engaged with is on the merits or otherwise of this Bill, and that is how it should be. They have conducted themselves in an exclusively and entirely professional manner. I want to pay tribute to their expertise and the manner in which they shared and dealt with that. In one sense, it may not have been the easiest of tasks because they were dealing with an MLA who felt he knew something about the law and who had certain ideas about how certain clauses should be expressed and what words should be used, but they were very gentle with me. They nudged, edged and cajoled in the direction of the wording that was appropriate to all parliamentary expectations. A very sincere word of thanks to the staff." 

 e-mail: ronan.cormacain@postgrad.sas.ac.uk