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Accountability first rule of responsibility

YOU'D sometimes wonder who actually elects our Dail deputies, because it is very rare to hear anything approaching a kind word said about them, or a rational discourse on their function or value.

Myths about their greed, shiftiness and laziness are legion and are retold and added to in hostelries up and down the land, day in and day out.

The role of our political class in the current economic slump, which has been washing up at our doorways for four years, can be debated until the cows come home, and regularly is.

And a small minority of our elected representatives were, in the past, found with their hands in the till and some more have been exposed for enthusiastically practising low standards in a range of lofty places.

But overall we are well served by those we elect to represent us.

The truth is a lazy TD will not get re-elected any more than an unfit team of hurlers could win an All Ireland.

Shiftiness, on the other hand, is in the eye of the beholder, but suffice to say that in this transparent world of 24/7 news, it is harder to be a successful cute hoor than ever it was before.

This brings us to greed and, if recent controversies about deputies' expenses are anything to go by, it is the one place where mud defiantly sticks.

An independent report – commissioned by the often feared and always forensic Public Accounts Committee – recommends that TDs expenses should be receipted, that independents should be stripped of their Leader's allowance and that extra payments to some Deputies, such as Party Whips, should be scrapped.

Radical, maybe, but eminently sensible too.

In any case, the very notion that TDs' expenses aren't already receipted and vouched for is beyond the comprehension of anyone who lives in the real world.

If these recommendations became policy it would go a long way in re-assuring voters about the return they are getting from their elected representatives.

And put to bed one of the most consistent and persistent myths about the value for money we get in return for our votes and taxes.

Irish Independent