Wednesday 21 February 2018

Finding his voice -- how FF leader's key proposals stack up

Cabinet ministers shouldn't have to attend to constituencies

Micheal Martin says he would free up the Cabinet to focus on their ministerial duties by replacing them with deputies -- already dubbed 'mini-TDs'.

But the number of TDs will remain the same, and Mr Martin said the 'mini-TDs' would be "fully fledged" parliamentarians on the same pay and expenses.

This is unlikely to go down well with the public, given recent anger about politicians' pay and expenses. But Mr Martin says cost is not the main issue.

  • Allow people from outside the Oireachtas take up cabinet positions

The Taoiseach could appoint outsiders to Cabinet, a la Barack Obama, who appointed Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu as his energy secretary. But the FF manifesto is a bit sketchy about the confirmation process for such appointees.

It has been suggested that if a similar arrangement was in place over the past 10 years, Sean FitzPatrick could have been Minister for Finance.

  • Abolish the Seanad -- maybe

Mr Martin said the Seanad "is not central to our political problems, but the changes we propose would remove the need for its core review function".

But here's the kicker -- Fianna Fail would only support the abolition of the Seanad if "the more important political reforms we propose are implemented", Mr Martin said. FF has a get-out clause since there is no way FG and Labour will kowtow to Mr Martin's ideas on political reform.

  • Ban corporate donations

Fianna Fail now says it wants rid of corporate donations, even though the Greens have been trying to force it through government for the past three-and-a-half years.

  • Single-seat constituencies topped up by a list system

Multi-seat constituencies would go, with one TD per constituency topped up by a national list system. Mr Martin says he has long been in favour of single-seat constituencies, but he seems to have suddenly found his voice on the issue.

Irish Independent

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