Tuesday 16 January 2018

Convention wants to allow Taoiseach pick non-TDs as ministers

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

THE Taoiseach should be allowed to appoint people who are not TDs or senators to ministerial office, the Government's constitutional think-tank has said.

The Constitutional Convention – which met for two days over the weekend – also recommended keeping proportional representation and creating larger constituencies.

The convention's recommendations will now go to the Government, which can accept or reject them. It if accepts the suggested changes, they must be put to the people in a referendum.

The 100 members of the convention, which met in Malahide, Co Dublin, decided by a margin of 55pc to 42pc, with 3pc having no opinion, to allow non-Oireachtas members become ministers.

It also recommended that ministers should resign their Dail seats once taking up ministerial office.

But the convention rejected the idea of replacing the single transferable vote system (PR-STV) with a list system for electing TDs.

The proposed list system, called mixed member proportional representation (MMPR), was rejected by a large margin, with 79pc against, 20pc for and just 1pc with no opinion.

However, the convention did recommend some changes to PR-STV, although by a smaller margin with just over half (54pc) in favour.

The changes include larger constituencies, with a minimum of five Dail seats each, as well as changing the alphabetical order of candidates' names on the ballot paper.

It was also decided to leave the number of TDs the same. There are currently 166 TDs, although this will fall to 158 for the next general election.

And the convention agreed to other issues like the establishment of an electoral commission, longer polling hours and days, more access to postal voting, more accurate electoral registers and the introduction of methods to increase voter turnout.

It also gave its approval to allowing "citizens initiatives" – such as petitions – to have a say in government.

This would include putting items on, or removing them from, the legislative agenda and requiring referendums to be held on constitutional issues.

Irish Independent

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