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Leo Varadkar: The government has too much control over the Dáil

The Transport Minister was frank about the government’s control of the legislature in the Dáil this afternoon.

LEO VARADKAR HAS admitted that the government has too much control over the Dáil.

The Transport Minister was speaking during one of the twice-monthly Friday sittings of the Dáil today when he said that it was his view that the government “still has too much control over the house”.

He said that when he was in opposition he was “very frustrated” by the control that the government had over the agenda of Dáil Éireann.

Varadkar’s comments are the latest in an ongoing debate about the extent to which the government controls the Dáil’s agenda. Critics say this has blurred the supposed clear line that must exist between the executive (the government) and the legislature (the Dáil and Seanad).

Fianna Fáil has proposed holding a referendum on the constitutional provision which effectively means the Dáil cannot not pass any legislation or resolution concerning the allocation of Exchequer funding without the approval of the government of the day.

There has also been much discussion about the strict application of the party whip with Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently ruling out any immediate changes to this, citing the “instability” it might create.

In a rare move, the government today partly accepted a proposal brought forward by Fianna Fáil to increase the penalties for drivers involved in hit-and-run incidents.

“I think it’s important that as much as possible we be open-minded about backbenchers and frontbench spokespeople and the contributions they can make to legislation,” Varadkar said today.

“If we want our TDs to be legislators we have to treat them like legislators.”

Read: “One cannot have instability”: Taoiseach rules out loosening the party whip

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

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Hugh O'Connell

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