Time to fix 'crippled political system' - McDowell
Former Tánaiste and Attorney General Michael McDowell has called for immediate Dáil reform before the next general election, including the election of the next Ceann Comhairle by a secret ballot of TDs.
Speaking at the opening of the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, last night, Mr McDowell said that it was time to end "the dysfunction that has characterised, impaired and crippled" the political system.
"Tinkering around with populist gimmicks such as reducing the number of TDs or reducing their pay achieves nothing," he said.
Commenting on the addition of two new political parties - Renua and the Social Democrats and also the Independent Alliance - Mr McDowell said that the "field was pretty crowded" but would not be drawn on the persistent rumours he would rejoin politics.
This year's summer school was opened yesterday evening by US ambassador Kevin O'Malley, kicking off the six-day talkfest which is themed, '2016 - Ireland at the Crossroads'.
The US ambassador backed the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks, saying the trade agreement will "maintain strong environmental and labour protections for workers". He added: "TTIP is primarily not about the big guys - it's directed primarily at small enterprises."
Among the speakers this week are the Taoiseach, Tánaiste Joan Burton, Health Minister Leo Varadkar, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Renua's Lucinda Creighton, Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin and UKIP MP Douglas Carswell.
Environment Minister Alan Kelly was due to join a panel discussion tomorrow night on the future of Irish Water, but pulled out due to a diary clash.
It is believed that anti-water charge protesters who planned a demonstration to coincide with his speech may now switch their protest to Friday, when the Taoiseach is in Glenties.
The Irish Water session will be debated tomorrow night by Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Michael McNicholas of the utility company's parent group Ervia, and Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty.