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'Bogus' and 'populist': The opposition's take on Dáil reform plan

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Green Party have rounded on Enda Kenny’s proposals to lengthen Dáil sittings and beef up the pre-legislative processes.

Fianna Fail's spokesman on Finance, Michael McGrath and deputy whip Sean Ó Fearghail.
Fianna Fail's spokesman on Finance, Michael McGrath and deputy whip Sean Ó Fearghail.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

OPPOSITION PARTIES HAVE described the Government’s plans for Dáil reform as ‘bogus’ and have said that they do nothing to increase accountability.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny today announced longer sitting times for the Dáil as well as open committee  hearings ahead of the publication of new bills.

The Government also plans to publish its legislative priorities three times  per year and will hold two separate ‘Europe Weeks’ to debate EU legislation.

Fianna Fáil has dismissed the the proposals as ‘spin’ saying that Government ministers still maintain too much control of the Dáil programme. The party’s Fianna Fáil deputy whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl described the plan as ‘bogus’:

Despite the Government’s spin about major reform, the fact is that even if these amendments are made,  ministers will still have absolute control over the Dáil’s agenda and there will still be no way of forcing ministers to answer even basic questions about their behaviour.

No consensus

Sinn Féin said that the Government had broken a pledge to engage with opposition parties in the drafting of the proposals. Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that Fine Gael and Labour had broken a pledge to achieve cross party consensus. “We believe that there should at least be an attempt to get consensus from all parties in the Dáil,” he said. “These proposals should have gone to the Oireachtas Dáil Reform Committee where they could be discussed with other parties alongside Sinn Féin’s proposals and the proposals of any of the other parties or independents.”

The Green Party said plans to bring in non-elected individuals into committee stages amounts to no reform at all as party leader Eamon Ryan said there is nothing stopping this being done at present. He described the plans to increase Dáil sittings as ‘populist’:

Our TD’s work long enough hours, the problem is what they are doing with that time. These provisions give no new powers to the parliament. We will still elect people to get things from the system rather than to change the system itself.

Read: Government chief whip will look at allowing free votes after next election >

Read: Fianna Fáil proposes referendum to reduce government control of Dáil agenda >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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