Saturday 18 November 2017

Proposal to tackle Dáil 'question dodgers'

Ceann Comhairle Séan Ó Fearghaíl. Photo: Maxwell's
Ceann Comhairle Séan Ó Fearghaíl. Photo: Maxwell's
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

The Ceann Comhairle will be empowered to "pull up" ministers trying to dodge Dáil questions under proposals considered by TDs.

Deputies yesterday spoke of the need to strengthen the role of the Ceann Comhairle so that ministers deemed to be evading questions can be tackled.

The proposed measure was one of several that secured verbal agreement at the first meeting of the committee on Dáil reform.

But, privately, some members of the group felt that there should have been more progress made at the meeting, which lasted more than three hours.

There were no concrete proposals agreed that will be voted through the Dáil on April 6.

And there was no serious discussion on reforming the way in which the annual Budget is devised, or calls to loosen the whip system.

Among the matters that secured verbal agreement included:

Increasing the number of technical groups.

Reducing the number of deputies required to form a technical group to five.

The establishment of a cross-party committee that sets out the day's business.

Measures which allow TDs to vote on several issues during the same time period as well as provision to allow for formal abstentions in votes.

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy said he believed the measures greater reflect the changed Dáil landscape.

"It was a positive first discussion and hopefully progress has been made towards reflecting the diversity of this Dáil and allowing smaller groups to have a greater role," Mr Murphy told the Irish Independent last night.

In a statement following the meeting, newly-elected Ceann Comhairle Sean Ó Fearghaíl said progress was made on strengthening parliamentary procedures.

"There is a duty on us as parliamentarians to re-order this Dáil in a manner that more accurately reflects the real needs of a modern Ireland," Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.

The next meeting of the Oireachtas committee will take place on April 5 - the day before the Dáil meets to elect a Taoiseach.

Irish Independent

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