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Assault on Parliament?

6.27.2005

Two different stories from the same party and along the same theme so lazy me decides one post should do for them. The theme is the ongoing governmental attack on the power and influence of the Dail and unsurprisingly the party is Labour.
The first outburst comes from Emmet Stagg yesterday regarding new proposals being laid down by government whip, Tom Kitt, that would alter the current ineffective set up of leaders questions for an even worse looking set up. Apparently the Taoiseach finds Leaders Questions to be a frightful burden, what with all the tough questions and meanies looking for some accountability over decisions taken. So he has proposed through the whip that leaders questions now become, "whichever-minion-is-available-to-fob-the-opposition-off-questions".
The idea that the government leader should be allowed to duck the few mandatory appearances he has to make before the dail at a time when he is doing less parliamentary work than any of his predecessors is an abomination.
The strength of parliament is the strength of the people to constrain the overarching power and greed of a hungry executive. This is not some neo-American creed but simply that facts before us that this government has done a great deal to undermine scrutiny, accountability and responsibility in the process spreading disillusion and apathy with public life. Now the Head of that government is trying to reduce further the role opposition TDs may play in overseeing the governance of this country. Of course, there is probably a simpler explanation, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are good days for opening off-licenses.
The erosion of the powers of parliament is a dangerous precedent for no matter what they say any opposition that comes to power is unlikely to restore to parliament the power it deserves. We should oppose these measures and others this government may attempt to try and subvert the remaining health of our democracy.

THE SECOND story comes from the seat of our Tanaiste in waiting Mr Rabbitte. He is understandably upset over the attempts to shut the dail in the face of such serious legislation that still needs time to be brought through the dail. He has a point. This is not simply point scoring although I find it sick that my taxes papa wages and pensions of people with at least three months holidays and a terrible record of delivery in office. Talk about rip off Ireland. But I digress, the Dail is about to shut its doors with some serious work still on the agenda. The revelations regarding Brian Rossiter yesterday only add to the urgency of seeing the Garda Bill through in a form which reassures the public of the power we hold over the Gardai. We need to feel that there is an attitude of fairness and an abhorrence of corruption in dail eireann and if the attitude to the Garda bill wont give it to us neither will the attitude to the new disabililties bill.
This is the latest in a litany of upsets for disability campaigners who have been let down continually by government. By refusing rights based legislation, the government has refused to adopt responsibility for care and standard of living of the most needful in our society. In a country of unprecedented wealth we have elected a fat, mean and lazy leviathan to oversee the minutiae of our lives while ignoring those that most need intervention. I for one am disgusted at the inaptitude and ambivalence shown by government to the needs of the people instead opting to ignore us and go on three months holidays.
RR

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  1. Blogger Wednesday | 7:39 p.m. |  

    Labour have no credibility on this issue. It's because of their deal with the Government, to get greater speaking rights than the (larger) Technical Group, that the Taoiseach is away from the House on Thursdays.

    BTW I agree that the Dáil should sit longer, but it isn't accurate to say that the TDs are going on three month holidays. They'll still be working away in their offices for most of the summer.

  2. Blogger Cian | 12:33 a.m. |  

    Fair enough, however i reckon that it is irrelevant how qualified a party is to be angry on this issue. It was blatant end of term stuff which occurs at all end of term debates. I was merely linking to a party highlighting the issue. Their qualification to raise the point is neither here nor there. Though i agree they are only nominally the "third" party in the Dail. The TG has greater technical standing.
    On the issue of TDs working away it is less TDs i am angry at, i feel government should be working longer as they have messes to clear up. TDs must by extension sit longer to ensure parliamentary oversight. the bulk of TDs work is not dail related but it should be. They will keep cultivating constituencies dail session or not.
    My point relates more to government taking time off and the inevitable unkets that accompany it. Labour is perhaps as an organisation better placed to get this point out there than the TG of parties/indpendents.
    My point is that they shouldnt go on
    a) as long a break
    and
    b)any break until the important work they are paid to do is done i.e. government clean up their act and start governing propoerly. Point taken re labour tho. Not a devotedlabourite myself but they were handy for illustration.
    What du reckon though re oversight and the need to remain sitting?

    RR

  3. Blogger Wednesday | 9:46 p.m. |  

    Well, I would say the summer break should be shorter, 6-8 weeks maybe. And Parliamentary Questions should continue to be answered throughout the summer. But to say they should never go on a break until their work is done ... well, when is it ever done?

    There is really a HUGE amount of constituency work that goes along with being a TD. It's hard to fathom how much until you've worked in a TD's office. And constituents here are far more demanding than they are in many other countries. I read a while ago some British MP saying that he was proud of the fact that he tried to spend one Saturday a month in his constituency. Can you imagine? The Opposition parties may give out publicly about the long breaks, but I'd bet there's not one of them who isn't secretly relieved to finally have the time to catch up on their backlog of constituency work.

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