Govt publishes Dáil reform proposals

Thursday 12 September 2013 23.05
The Government has published its proposals for legislative reform
The Government has published its proposals for legislative reform

The Government has published its proposals for legislative reform, which include longer Dáil sittings and changes to the system of parliamentary scrutiny.

Under the proposals the relevant Dáil committee along with interest groups and experts will have an input into legislation before it is drafted and committees will assess bills before they are finally passed into law.

A year after enactment, the minister concerned will report back to the Dáil to assess whether bills are effective.

Under the changes there will be an annual independently-produced National Progress Report, and each year the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and ministers will set out to the Dáil their plans for the future.

Under the proposals the Dáil will sit earlier, and there will be changes to the way parliamentary questions are put.

Committee chairs would be elected on a more representative system, and the committees themselves will scrutinise departmental estimates ahead of any monies being spent.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that the proposals represent "a genuine attempt to engage civic society in a way that has never been done before".

Some of the proposals will be put before the Dáil when it returns from its summer recess and it is expected they will come into effect in early October.

Others will only be implemented if the referendum to abolish the Seanad is passed.

The Taoiseach said it is an attempt to make the time of the Dáil more effective.

He said the Government will not specify which members of the public can attend committees and it will be left up to the committee members to invite people to attend.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said reform is needed as many of the parliamentary practices date back to the 19th century.

Opposition criticises proposals

Opposition parties have criticised the Government's plans.

Fianna Fáil said while some aspects were welcome, the package was disappointing and clearly a reaction to the impending Seanad referendum.

Sinn Féin criticised what it said was a lack of consultation on the plans and claimed the proposals would give more power to ministers.