Monday 23 September 2019

Time limits for Dail to stop filibustering during debates

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Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Leo Varadkar is considering the introduction of time limits on Dail debates to prevent TDs from filibustering legislation.

The Taoiseach said there was a "legislative logjam" due to TDs and senators delaying new laws on abortion, drink-driving and judicial appointments by making lengthy contributions during debates.

"We don't have a majority in either house so we can't impose a guillotine anymore," Mr Varadkar said.

"But perhaps at the Business Committee, or among the major parties or groups, we could agree that an issue deserves 20 hours' debate but 20 should be enough you know," he added.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Shane Ross has attacked senators seeking to delay reforms of how judges are appointed.

"By delaying the judicial bill in the Seanad, they're perpetuating political patronage, they're perpetuating political favours," the minister said in an interview with the Sunday Independent.

"That is what they are doing. So, if that's what they want to do, let them say so," he added.

"They're not dictating policy because they are not introducing new policies. They're quite destructive, that's all."

Mr Ross said those behind the delaying of legislation are "horribly powerful", before adding: "We beat the vintners and we're going to beat the judges and barristers."

He said the arithmetic of the Dail is a good thing as it means the Government does not dictate its will on the Houses of the Oireachtas. But he added: "Unfortunately, a kind of rag-bag of people... like Danny Healy-Rae and Mattie McGrath, you know, and a few lawyers in the Seanad, have exploited that fact.

"Not to make constructive suggestions about what's going on, not to get legislation amended in a constructive way, but simply to wreck it and delay it."

Mr Ross also stood over his decision to call Mattie McGrath a "b***ox" after they clashed following a Dail debate on drink-driving legislation.

He said it was a show of "absolute exasperation" over delays to the new laws. The Judicial Appointments Bill has been debated for more than 70 hours in the Seanad and it will be back before the upper house once the Dail returns in the new year.

Last Thursday, senators voted to cancel a scheduled four debates on the legislation and begin their Christmas holidays early.

Sunday Independent

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