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The Dáil and Seanad sat for 1,699 hours and cost €105.5 million last year

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission has published its annual report today with some interesting numbers on how the Dáil compares to other parliaments…

Leinster House
Leinster House
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated 20:19

BOTH HOUSES OF the Oireachtas sat longer and cost less last year according to new figures published earlier on today.

The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission has published its annual report for last year today stating that it spent €105.5 million last year against a budget of €115.6 million, meaning a nine per cent saving.

Sitting days increased by nearly a quarter – 23 per cent – with 123 Dáil sitting days last year amounting to a total of 1,001 sitting hours with the Seanad sitting on 110 days, for a total of 698 hours.

One point to note is that 2011 was an election year where the Dáil didn’t sit for over a month because of the vote in addition to all its usual recess weeks.

Committees met on 572 occasions and held meetings for 1,032 hours, producing 18 reports last year. A total of 119 Bills were published and 54 Acts or laws were passed with some 4,450 amendments tabled to legislation as it made its way through the Oireachtas.

Over 56,000 parliamentary questions were processed. Benchmarked against 18 other national parliaments this is among one of the highest, only surpassed by the UK where over 100,000 PQs are processed annually.

The Irish parliament did not pass as many laws as several other countries, finishing 10th out of 17 parliaments it was benchmarked against and trailing behind the likes of the US and Russia.

However the Oireachtas had a lower overall cost per member of parliament than the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, Italy, Austria and Belgium and fewer administrative staff per member, fewer political staff per member and fewer total staff per member than the average.

With 12 recess weeks, Ireland ranks 11th out of 18 other parliaments, better than Australia (which has 35 recess weeks), Canada, Poland and Spain but that was more recess weeks last year than Austria, Italy and the US.

The Commission also said there were 138 Freedom of Information requests received in 2012. The majority of requests (116 or 83 per cent) came from the media.

It also said that 2,086 documents were laid before the houses in 2012 with 99 per cent of these documents being laid electronically by Departments and Agencies following the development of an electronic system.

First published 15:22.

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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