The news reporters who cover the Irish courts have focused their attention elsewhere this week, but for me the big story is the hearing in Pringle v. Government of Ireland. Thomas Pringle has just tweeted that the Supreme Court has decided to refer to the Court of Justice for the European Union this question: is the ESM Treaty compatible with the foundational treaties of the EU?
This appears to be a much broader question than the one Judge Laffoy proposed to send to Luxembourg, so the Supreme Court might be better disposed to Pringle’s EU law arguments than the High Court. (Here’s my discussion of the issues from earlier this week.) On the other hand, the Supreme Court, a court of last resort, is required to refer questions to the CJEU in certain circumstances. This is now a European story, rather than just an Irish story. We should have more details later in the day.
UPDATE: Pringle’s solicitors (also using Twitter) say the Supreme Court is sending the following three questions to the CJEU (for explanation of the Council Decision and the ESM Treaty, see Monday’s post):
1. Was the Council Decision authorizing the creation of the ESM a valid amendment of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU?
2. May a state join the ESM before the Council Decision comes into effect at the beginning of next year? (This is the timing issue that Judge Laffoy would have referred)
3. Is the ESM Treaty compatible with the EU’s foundational treaties?
Also this morning in the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice set a date for Sean Quinn Jr.’s appeal from his coercive prison term for contempt of court–in October. That gives some indication of her view as to the merits of his challenge.