Saturday 10 December 2016

Common sense proves elusive as Dáil stuggles to find its feet

Published 23/03/2016 | 02:30

Photo: Maxwells
Photo: Maxwells

The problem with common sense is that it's not that common at all.

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In fact it is an endangered characteristic inside the chamber of Dáil Éireann where the "showboating" and "waffle" is reaching precedented levels.

Yes, that's right the new Dáil is as bad as the last one.

Many of the faces have changed and the numbers are different but the pantomime is the same.

In Easter week the country is under attack from vulture funds picking on the carcase of the Celtic Tiger who we were led to believe had performed a 'rising' of its own.

The hospitals are overcrowded and rural Ireland is flat out trying to stay open for business.

And everybody has a mandate… to talk about it but not to govern.

Yet despite all the angst and unease over the fact TDs can't be seen to be doing their jobs since the election stalemate just 20 (12pc) of them were actually present as the debate on housing chucked along yesterday evening.

TDs said their bit and made a quick, polite exit, happy in the knowledge that they've got their names on the Dáil record.

It was the Independent Alliance's John Halligan who rightly asked: "What is the point in our being here at all if we are just going to talk about homelessness, unemployment, agriculture and migration and do nothing about them, and not even be in a position to vote on them or make a decision on them? What is the point?"

He called for some common sense to be brought to the House. The new Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl tried but was met with a wall of Sinn Féin TDs keen to make water charges the most important issue.

First Gerry Adams interrupted to complain that the schedule was limited to the migration crisis, agriculture and a four-hour debate on housing. His sudden lack of knowledge about Dáil rules infected Pearse Doherty, Aengus Ó Snodaigh and David Cullinane before eventually Mr Ó Fearghaíl sighed that their leader had "adequately" made the point.

Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin smelled a rat, claiming Sinn Féin were guilty of "serial misleading" in an attempt to put down a marker. "Under no circumstances, will we stand around and watch the amended Standing Orders or new Dáil reform being exploited for political show-boating in the House," he said, adding that the "procedural wrangling" was wasting everybody's time.

Mr Ó Snodaigh mumbled: "That was some waffle."

Politicians change but sadly the Dáil doesn't.

Irish Independent

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