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People who are not TDs or Senators 'should be appointed as Ministers'

The Constitutional Convention has made a number of recommendations on reforming politics in Ireland.

Could non-members of the Oireachtas sit at the Cabient table?
Could non-members of the Oireachtas sit at the Cabient table?

THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION has voted in favour of allowing non-members of the Oireachtas to be appointed as government ministers and and has also recommended that members of the Dáil should resign their seats if they are appointed as a minister.

In a series of votes yesterday, the Convention’s 100 members voted in favour of permitting the Dáil to appoint people who are neither TDs or Senators as Ministers by 55 – 42 per cent with three per cent having no opinion.

This could conceivably allow governments to appoint outside experts to Cabinet posts. The Convention also voted in favour (59 to 40 per cent) of forcing members of the Dáil to resign their seat if appointed to ministerial office.

The Convention, which held its second meeting on the Dáil electoral system in Malahide this past weekend, has overwhelmingly (79 to 20 per cent) rejected the idea to replace the country’s current electoral system PR-STV with a mixed-member proportional representation system.

Delegates voted in favour of allowing for larger constitues (86 to 13 per cent) and on changing the order of candidates on the ballot paper – they are currently ordered alphabetically.

The Convention rejected the idea of changing the numbers in Dáíl Éireann by 59 to 37 per cent.  The number of TDs will be reduced from 166 to 158 at the next election.

Delegates also overwhelmingly called for the establishment of an Electoral Commission, extended polling hours and days, allowing greater access to postal voting, improving the accuracy of the electoral register and introducing of methods to improve turnout.

By a margin of 83 to 16 per cent, delegates also approved the introduction of ‘direct democracy’ or citizens’ initiatives which would allow people to have a say on placing items on the legislative agenda and forcing constitutional referenda.

The results of the ballot will now be compiled into a report, including recommendations, which will be sent to Government.

It has committed to responding to the Convention within four months by way of a debate in the Oireachtas and – if it agrees with the recommendations – a Constitutional referendum.

Read: Could Ireland change how it elects its TDs? Here are the options

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Read: No complaints to Convention over concerns about gay marriage hearings

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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