Wednesday 29 March 2017

Time for talk is over - Dáil has a job to do

In ordinary times we would have expected Ms Fitzgerald to make a public appearance and tell the country exactly what was being done about this. AFP/Getty Images
In ordinary times we would have expected Ms Fitzgerald to make a public appearance and tell the country exactly what was being done about this. AFP/Getty Images
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

On some levels we have lived a blessed life over the past seven weeks. There have been no major shocks to the system or unexpected crises while Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil floundered over how to cement their positions in government and opposition.

But if the ongoing problems in our hospitals and with our housing haven't been enough to focus the minds of the politicians maybe yesterday's ruling by Mr Justice Michael Moriarty will do the trick.

He said the laws which allow judges to give offenders a chance, and then send them to jail if they don't take that chance are in need of "urgent and comprehensive review".

The Attorney General was last night studying his words as was the Director of Public Prosecutions - but the Department of Justice was unable to say whether Frances Fitzgerald would break away from the talks on the formation of a minority government.

Of course, if we can have a new government that should allow for the easier transition of any emergency legislation on the issue through the Dail.

However, the fact that we now find ourselves in a situation where men convicted of attempted robbery and violent disorder are roaming the streets is a major concern.

In ordinary times we would have expected Ms Fitzgerald to make a public appearance and tell the country exactly what was being done about this.

Instead her department issued a one-sentence statement confirming "the consequences and implications of today's ruling by Justice Moriarty are currently being examined in consultation with the Attorney General".

It's a far from reassuring response. It offered no reassurance that the issue will be resolved without hesitation or that the minister stands ready to introduce legislation in the coming days if necessary.

Back on February 26, people voted in a way that our politicians didn't like. It has resulted in weeks of game playing by the main parties and total abdication of any responsibility by some of the smaller ones.

But the 158 TDs that were lucky enough to make it into Leinster House were put there to legislate.

The law is always open to challenge which is why we need a government to react. It's beyond time for the 32nd Dáil to start doing its job.

Irish Independent

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