Dáil Reform at the heart of Fine Gael’s 5 point Plan

The Dáil needs to be radically reformed and brought into the 21st century, according to Party Chief Whip, Paul Kehoe.
The Fine Gael Spokesman was speaking in Kilkenny where the Party outlined its political reform agenda.

“Fine Gael has a 5 Point Plan to get Ireland working and political reform is a cornerstone of our strategy. Under Fianna Fáil the Dáil has failed the Irish people. An over-powerful Executive has turned into it into a mere observer of the political process rather than a central player. This will change under Fine Gael. But we also recognise that the Dail must also lead by example and become smaller. That is why we will reduce the number of TDs by 20.

“If elected to power Fine Gael will overhaul the Dáil by giving backbench TDs real power to introduce their own Bills. We will also tackle the huge over-use of guillotines to ram through non-emergency legislation which we believe subverts our system of democracy.

“As importantly Fine Gael will revamp the Dáil Committee structure so that it can truly hold government to account on behalf of the Irish people. We will do this by:

• Amending the constitution to give Dail committees full powers of investigation. The Abbeylara Supreme Court decision limits the ability of Dáil committees to hold investigations into crucial issues of public concern, such as the banking crisis.

• Giving a smaller number of committees greater power. We will also give key committees constitutional standing.

• De-politicising their work. Chairs of committees will be assigned on a more proportional basis. Legislation will typically be introduced in a heads of Bill format, so that committees can deal with it early on a more non-partisan basis. We will also examine whether “weighted majorities” should be used in some committee work to encourage a less-politicised approach to legislation.”