Monday 25 September 2017

Ceann Comhairle spat is the tip of the iceberg - what we need is Dáil reform

Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett.
Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett.
Ivan Yates

Ivan Yates

Dáil events are beyond bizarre. The mere notion is daft: Parliament can't debate the terms of its own inquiry. Tribunals or Commissions of Inquiry always arise out of claims of State maladministration.

Whether it's beef, planning payments to politicians or Garda whistleblowers, the common thread is a systemic failure of public administration. By definition, the subject matter of such tribunals involves sufficient dissension and public disquiet that the Cabinet accepts it must intervene. Ownership of investigation has to be under the auspices of the Oireachtas, rather than government.

The Ceann Comhairle ruling under standing order 57 cannot be accepted, even if the motivation was to prevent a court derailment of the inquiry. The job of the courts is to interpret the law, not to determine what's debated in the Dáil. There has to be a limit to Alan Shatter's agenda to repudiate the Guerin Report or the Data Commissioner findings. His High Court civil case and Ceann Comhairle correspondence might be understandable for a private citizen, without a public platform. Yet he repeatedly used Dáil privilege to attack Sean Guerin.

Please sign in or register with Independent.ie for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Don't Miss