Monday 20 August 2018

'Delaying tactic' of long debates faces 'guillotine'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Frank McGrath
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Frank McGrath
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has hinted the guillotine may be used to end interminable Dáil debates that are holding up critical legislation including elements of the new Road Traffic Bill.

Mr Varadkar, in correspondence to the road safety campaign group PARC, acknowledged the 32nd Dáil is fast approaching the point where debates over some proposed legislation may have to be cut short.

This has been mooted given increasingly lengthy delays caused for key legislation by marathon debates - with PARC expressing concern such debates are being used as a deliberate delaying tactic by some opponents of the legislation.

Recently, PARC founder Susan Gray wrote to Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae to express the concern of her group over what she termed a deliberate tactic of "filibustering".

She offered to facilitate meetings between the TD and the families of road traffic victims to explain how they consider the new legislation to be a matter of life and death.

Mr Healy-Rae wrote back to the PARC founder and stressed he would continue to fulfil the role which he said he was elected by Kerry voters to undertake in the Dáil.

Now, Mr Varadkar has written to PARC and acknowledged his concern over the increasingly lengthy delays facing vital legislation. "The use of the guillotine would have to be agreed by consensus of the Dáil business committee. I think we are getting to that point as the endless debate is holding up this and other important legislation," Mr Varadkar wrote.

Given the breakdown of numbers within the 32nd Dáil, Mr Varadkar said any use of the guillotine to cut short legislative debate would have to be by consensus.

Ms Gray admitted the ongoing delays caused by marathon Dáil debates have deeply worried her and other PARC campaigners.

"We fear the Road Traffic Bill 2017 may not see the light of day before the summer recess," she said. PARC has written to all party leaders asking that they support any Government move to end the filibustering.

"As you are aware, the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017 is being purposely delayed by a handful of Independent TDs. While their filibustering continues, real people will needlessly die, and many others will be seriously injured on our roads," PARC wrote to all party leaders.

The leaders of all political parties have been asked to support the Dáil Business Committee in any move to guillotine the debate and end deliberate delaying tactics.

PARC has paid tribute to the critical support of some politicians, especially Tommy Broughan TD who has highlighted the need for reform in the area of learner drivers, drink and drug testing and the urgent need for Transport Minister Shane Ross to request the Law Reform Commission to prepare a consolidated piece of legislation on road traffic law.

The group insisted its campaign is underpinned by the desire to save lives on Irish roads.

Irish Independent

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