O'Donoghue returns to the fray with committee roles
FORMER Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue has returned to active parliamentary politics after becoming a member of two Dail committees.
He is replacing his successor as Ceann Comhairle, Seamus Kirk, on the Oireachtas Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs, which could be asked to take a role in the forthcoming banking inquiry.
Mr O'Donoghue is also replacing Green Party TD Ciaran Cuffe on the Oireachtas Environment Committee.
Although Mr O'Donoghue will not be paid for his work on the committees, his decision to become a member indicates he is determined to play a more active role in the Dail after initially keeping a low profile in the wake of his resignation as Ceann Comhairle last October.
The Green Party will be left without any representative on the environment committee after the departure of Mr Cuffe.
Last night, Mr Cuffe said he believed the party was still adequately represented by Environment Minister John Gormley, who appears regularly at the committee.
"I put myself onto far too many committees early on. I basically realised I was chasing my tail and I'm trying to be a bit more careful with my time," he said.
Mr Cuffe will still be a member of the three Oireachtas committees -- transport, climate change and procedures and privileges.
Since his resignation, Mr O'Donoghue has continued to turn up for government votes and attended local events in his Kerry South constituency.
He recently tabled questions to Sports Minister Martin Cullen about grants for a club in Kerry, but he has not been a regular speaker in the Dail.
As a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs, Mr O'Donoghue will be responsible for examining new ways of improving the regulation of the financial system here.
The committee's chairman, Fianna Fail TD Michael Moynihan, said he was delighted to have Mr O'Donoghue on board.
"He's very able and experienced, both on the ground and politically and ministerially. We have a lot of serious work to do in the committee and I know he will contribute to it," he said.
Mr Moynihan also said his committee was ready to help set the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into the banking crisis and then examining its findings.
"If they give us the work, we certainly are able for it and we will work very hard to do justice to it," he said.
Mr O'Donoghue was forced to step down as Ceann Comhairle last year after revelations that he had spent more than €200,000 on constituency expenses and luxury trips since taking office in June 2007.