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Before he even talks about government Micheál Martin wants a lot of Dáil reform

The Fianna Fáil leader wants a month set aside for all parties to talk about reforming the Dáil.

Micheál Martin
Micheál Martin
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

MICHEÁL MARTIN HAS called for all political parties to agree on substantial Dáil reforms over the next month – before negotiations on a new government get underway.

The Fianna Fáil leader, whose party has more than doubled its number of seats in this election, has issued a lengthy statement this evening saying the failure to implement political reform is “one of the biggest broken promises of the outgoing government”.

Martin wants a working group involving all parties and groupings elected to the 32nd Dáil established over the next month to discuss the reforms and for them to be implemented before negotiations on a new government begin.

He said the reform measures should focus on making the house more independent of government, including establishing an independent budget office, an independent legal adviser and limiting the guillotining of legislation.

“We believe that the new Dáil should not represent more business as usual – that it should involve a decisive move towards a reformed politics,” Martin said.

This should be addressed immediately and before the process of forming a new government is proceeded with. The next government should take up office subject to a reformed Dáil rather than leaving reform in the hands of that government.

Martin said that Fianna Fáil has a won “a substantial mandate” for its programme having secured the largest increase in first preference votes.

He added: “However we also acknowledge that every one of the 158 members of the new Dáil carry their own mandate which should be respected.”

Amid widespread expectation that it will take many weeks to reach a definitive outcome on the next government, Martin noted that the Constitution ensures “governmental continuity”.

The existing Fine Gael-Labour coalition will remain in place and the cabinet meets tomorrow. Even though some of its members are no longer TDs, they will remain ministers until their replacements are appointed by the next Taoiseach.

The 32nd Dáil sits for the first time on Thursday, 10 March with Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin currently expected to put forward their respective party leaders as nominees for Taoiseach.

In the likely event of a stalemate, with no Taoiseach elected, the current government will remain on in a caretaker role while talks between the parties continue.

What are the reforms?

Martin said that reforms should be initiated on a cross-party basis before talks on the make-up of the next govenrment advance.

The re-elected Cork South Central TD said his party will put forward initiatives it has previously outlined including:

  • Major limit on ability of government to control all business on an ongoing basis.
  • Set timings for legislation except in emergencies and an end to the practice of guillotines.
  • Earlier and more comprehensive review of legislation.
  • The establishment of an independent budget review office to review and cost all proposals brought to a vote by either government or opposition.
  • The establishment of an office of Independent Legal Advisor to the Oireachtas.
  • A new regulatory oversight process.

Martin said that once groupings are finalised after all 158 Dáil seats are filled, each one should nominate a member to a working group.

“They would be given a fortnight to agree core principles and asked to agree in-principle changes which would be adopted by Dáil Éireann,” he explained.

“Fianna Fáil has heard the electorate and its demand for fundamental change. We are responding to that demand in a constructive and positive way.”

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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