Sunday 19 November 2017

More power to our politicians comes at a price

Before the presidential election, before the Dublin West by-election and the referendums on judges' pay and inquiries by Oireachtas committees, one question has already been settled -- and in a manner that must disturb anyone who cares for the way the country is governed.

The Government imposed a guillotine to force through the Oireachtas the legislation to permit the holding of the two referendums. This was only the latest example of the manner in which Irish governments totally dominate parliament, to the great detriment of democracy. But the incident was significant. We can and do forgive the Fine Gael-Labour coalition for its Herculean efforts in fighting its way through a sea of economic troubles. But we were entitled to expect from it, and we did expect, a better style of government.

The imposition of the guillotine, designed to prevent full debate, suggests otherwise. In addition, the drafting of the two amendments, on which we will vote on Thursday, is imperfect. The language is obscure in places and a poor aid to understanding. In particular, it gives no clear assurance of protection against abuse of Oireachtas committees' powers in the future.

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