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Labour launches reform policy for parliament and laws

Labour’s ‘New Government, Better Government’ policy outlines plans for whistleblowers’ legislation and Seanad abolition.

Labour's Brendan Howlin says the party's policies would stop Ireland 'lurching from one crisis to the next'.
Labour's Brendan Howlin says the party's policies would stop Ireland 'lurching from one crisis to the next'.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Archive

THE LABOUR PARTY has outlined radical new plans to overhaul the role of the Dáil and create new legislation to protect whistleblowing, as part of an ambitious policy document released this afternoon.

The ‘New Government, Better Government’ document includes policies promising to make ministers accountable for their decisions or failure to act, extensions to the Freedom of Information Act including applying it to further public bodies, and the introduction of new legislation to protect whistleblowers.

The party also wants to establish a new independent electoral commission to oversee the running of public votes, and reform the procedures of parliament including the abolition of the Seanad and increasing the time for which the Dáil sits on an average weak.

Labour would also establish a new Constitutional Convention, which it says would directly involve the public in debating proposed revisions to the electoral system.

The party’s constitutional affairs spokesman Brendan Howlin said the plans were necessary to “stop [Ireland] lurching like this, from one disaster to the next”.

‘Radical, fundamental reform’

“The job of a TD has been undoubtedly been devalued in public perception in recent years. For that reason, if no other, radical, fundamental reform of the Houses of the Oireachtas has become a democratic imperative.”

In government, Labour says it would also create a system allowing citizens to petition the Dáil to address public grievances, and make it possible for laws to be initiated by any TD, rather than just those of the incumbent government.

Spending limits would also be introduced for local and Presidential elections – ballots which, unlike general elections, do not have a current formal spending limit – and introduce a statutory register for political lobbyists.

The party has also pledged itself to a comprehensive overhaul of the public service, attempting to remove ‘overlap’ and reducing staffing numbers, as well as providing a broader range of government services through single contact points, and the reduction of the number of staff at management grade within the public sector.

The full policy document can be read at Labour’s website.

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Gavan Reilly

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