Muiris MacCarthaigh: Executive accountability to Dail still elephant in the room
THESE have been extraordinary times for Irish parliamentary politics. Breakdowns in party discipline have reached new levels, significant new powers are proposed for Oireachtas inquiries, and all the while an uncertain fate hangs over Seanad Eireann.
While public attention has been drawn to the tensions between party whips attempting to ensure voting cohesion on the one hand and members seeking freedoms on issues of conscience on the other, the underlying issue of executive accountability to Dail Eireann remains the elephant in the room.
The latter has dogged the parliament since its inception and goes to the heart of why party leaders seek to control the voting behaviour of their members, as well as a number of historic failures in Irish public governance. Few disagree that reform is long overdue.