LABOUR TD JOANNA Tuffy has slammed the coalition government’s intention to cut the number of TDs, saying it’s “rubbish,” “populist,” and “Tea Party-type” stuff.
In an interview with TheJournal.ie this afternoon the representative for Dublin Mid West argued against the proposed boundary changes and a reduction in the number of TDs by between six and 13 representatives as announced by Environment Minister Phil Hogan yesterday.
She said “you could justify” up to 200 TDs based on the latest census figures.
She said that cutting the number of TDs won’t save money as it won’t come into effect until the next election:
No money is going to be saved, it’s rubbish and it’s populist.
Tuffy argued that, based on fact that 166 TDs have represented constituencies in Ireland since 1981, even though the population has increased considerably since then, she and her colleagues are becoming “more stretched in terms of our representation duties.”
She said many in her party agreed with her and pointed out that it wasn’t a Labour policy in its election manifesto to cut the number of TDs.
Tuffy also said that Hogan was “cutting the other parts of the accountability by abolishing the Seanad” even though this was advocated in Labour’s manifesto.
She added that the changes were “Tea Party-type” stuff and part of a “right-wing philosophy” referring to the American conservative political movement which advocates small government, reduced government spending and opposition to various forms of taxation.
Tuffy argued that Ireland has a comparable ratio of members of parliament to countries like Finland. She said that it wasn’t always helpful to compare one country’s ratio of representatives to another’s, drawing on the example of India. She said that if Ireland had the same ratio of representatives to citizens as in that country, we would have two TDs. She added:
It’s being done for all the wrong reasons.
Tuffy, who was first elected as a TD in 2007, argued that the minister was “abdicating” his responsibility to imposing the cuts by handing over the reforms to the Constituency Commission: “He’s abdicating his responsibility according to constitution.”
However a spokesperson for the Department of Environment told TheJournal.ie that everything the minister was doing was in accordance with previous assessments based on census figures and in accordance with the constitution.
The spokesperson added that once the commission makes its final report and recommendations it will have to be voted on in the Dáil.