Thursday 22 June 2017

'Busy' politicians spared extra day a week in Dail

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

THE Government has ruled out making TDs attend the Dail an extra day every week -- despite the increasingly heavy workload to be dealt with.

The Green Party's Paul Gogarty made a formal submission to the Government Chief Whip requesting that the Dail sit every Friday for the remainder of the lifetime of this Government.

This would have extended the Dail working week from three days to four days.

The TD argued it would help "speed up" the legislative process and improve debate in a chamber, which normally sits from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday evening.

When the Dail returns from its summer break on September 29, TDs won't be told they have to remain in the Dail for an extra day every week to deal with the fall-out from the economic and banking crisis.

Instead, the Government will continue to be "practical in the greater use" of Friday sittings so that Programme for Government policies are delivered and there is sufficient time for debate.

Friday sittings will only take place when "deemed necessary", according to a statement from the Chief Whip's office. Before the last General Election, the Green Party pledged to double the Dail sitting time, to 45 weeks a year from Monday afternoon until lunchtime on Friday.

The proposed Friday sittings would have required rural TDs to remain in Dublin an extra day and reduce their time at home in their constituencies.

The Dail has been closed since early July, whereas Westminster sat until July 29 and returns on September 6. In the US, Capitol Hill took just the month of August off, while the Greeks took just three weeks.

Over the past decade, the Dail has usually returned from its summer recess on the last Wednesday of September.

Last year, it returned on September 16 to debate NAMA, and in 2002 it came back on September 4to pass legislation to hold a referendum on the Nice Treaty.

Irish Independent

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