Saturday 24 February 2018

John Crown: It's power to the party as Kenny purges refuseniks

The sound of cracking whips is being heard in the committees, as two rebel TDs discovered, writes John Crown

CALLED TO ACCOUNT: Fine Gael deputy Peter Mathews is a former international banker
CALLED TO ACCOUNT: Fine Gael deputy Peter Mathews is a former international banker

John Crown

Sometimes actions really do speak louder than words and the action of our Taoiseach in removing Fine Gael refuseniks from Oireachtas committees makes the case for political reform far more eloquently than any poor words of mine ever could.

Our parliamentary committees, imperfect though they might be, are where the influence of blind party tribalism is less pervasive than it is in either of our two highly dysfunctional parliamentary chambers. Committee members from all parties and from none can work together in a generally constructive business-like atmosphere. The committees have other strengths vis-a-vis the Dail and Seanad in addition to reduced partisanship.

They provide the only regular structured opportunity for groups of parliamentarians to meet with delegations of citizens. Critically, they provide an opportunity for parliamentarians to bring particular technical expertise or relevant life experience to the legislative process. Peter Mathews is a near-perfect example of this expertise. Mathews came into the Dail late in his professional life, having worked for 40 years in the accountancy, international banking, and financial consultancy sectors.

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