Sunday 22 October 2017

Doing nothing is better than acting for the wrong reasons

There is something the 'Do-nothing Dail' could do - stop making so many bad laws, writes Eoin O'Malley

ROAD SAFETY: Danny Healy-Rae (pictured) was lambasted when he spoke against a proposed bill from Minister Shane Ross Picture: Tom Burke
ROAD SAFETY: Danny Healy-Rae (pictured) was lambasted when he spoke against a proposed bill from Minister Shane Ross Picture: Tom Burke

Eoin O'Malley

The 'Do-nothing Dail' must be getting a little embarrassed. News that last year the Oireachtas passed fewer bills than in any other in the history of the State has given 'new politics' a bad name. Last week, commentators complained that of many votes on motions in the Dail very few passed. In response, the Government, and others in opposition, are supplying copious numbers of bills.

Many of the bills are of dubious quality. The Dail's rules mean that bringing forward a private member's bill gives a TD a lot more time and attention than if they put down a motion. Motions don't become law, they just signal the Dail's position on something. Many of the bills people bring forward read like motions, and are so poorly written that hopefully they will never actually become laws.

Which is why we shouldn't be so upset at the low number of bills being passed into law. As well as making laws, a part of a parliament's job is to make good laws better and to reject bad ones. The willingness of the Dail to reject bills, including the Government's ones, is a good thing. Too many people think passing laws is a measure of the Oireachtas's productivity. How many bad laws were passed in the past 20 years because governments had no one who could say no to it?

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