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Former Taoiseach Bruton condemns political system

Former Taoiseach John Bruton claimed today that Ireland is run by civil servants who use TDs and Senators to administer their rule.

In a scathing attack on the political system, he also suggested countless corruption tribunals were necessary because Government ministers were not fully answerable to the Dail.

Mr Bruton insisted a new referee-type chairman was needed in the Dail to order Cabinet members to properly respond to questions and make sure planned laws are wholly debated.

The ex-European Union ambassador to the United States also admitted he did not do enough during his three years as Taoiseach to reform how Ireland is run.

"I've thought about it a lot since though," he said.

"One of the big problems we have had are the tribunals, very expensive tribunals, to get information about what is being done by people involved in public administration.

"If we had a better system for ensuring the full and accurate answers were given to Dail questions we would not need as many forms of inquiry as we currently have."

Mr Bruton, now chairman of IFSC Ireland, said the Ceann Comhairle was the key role in the Dail that needed to be overhauled.

A new referee-style speaker should be elected by secret ballot - rather than be chosen by the serving Taoiseach - and have the power to order Government ministers to come back into the Dail and properly answer questions, he said.

The revamped role would also allow the Ceann Comhairle to overrule the Government on controversial "guillotines" and demand issues be debated more fully.

Mr Bruton said a lot of legislation is passed without proper debate and the situation will only get worse if the Seanad is abolished under the current system.

"We need to tilt the balance more in favour of whoever happens to be in Opposition or whoever happens to be a backbencher," he told RTE radio.

"At the present time, the Oireachtas is run by the executive, which in turn is, in a sense, run by the civil service.

"We have a sort of civil service led system of administration which uses the Dail and the Senate as a delivery mechanism."

PA Media