Reforming the Oireachtas as an Oversight and Accountability Mechanism for Human Rights

CommitteeRoom_4_800Post by Kirsten Roberts*

In democracies, parliaments are crucial in balancing the use of power by the executive and overseeing the functioning of the State. In Ireland this balance is off – with the executive and civil service seemingly unwilling to cede any real control to oversight or accountability mechanisms. While the Oireachtas has been prominent as perhaps the only body able to publicly consider many of the difficult issues that have arisen this year – from whistleblowers to the charities sector – its role as an oversight mechanism is not being fully realised. Continue reading

Getting Reform Right for EU legislative oversight

committe3By Gavin Barrett (UCD School of Law) 30 September

Oireachtas reform is a hot topic at present. Many cite the need for the Oireachtas to do its European Union-related work better as an objective justifying retaining the Seanad. Others claim the Dáil alone can do such work and more besides.

It seems worthwhile asking, therefore: just how well is the Oireachtas doing its European Union-related scrutiny and legislative work at present? Continue reading

Fianna Fáil’s proposals for Dáil reform

FF polSome weeks ago Fianna Fáil published a policy paper (for discussion) on Real Political Reform. Its focus is primarily on the Dáil and how it could be reformed. While the document appears to have attracted virtually no coverage whatsoever, it certainly warrants a read. I may not agree with all the proposals in this document, but there are some very interesting ones, for instance relating to: the need to elect the Ceann Comhairle, steps to free the Oireachtas from ‘complete’ government control, a new Oireachtas Office of Polity and Economic Oversight to provide expert support for TDs, more time for Continue reading

Dáil reform announced by the government

Below I’ve pasted the announcement by the government for Dáil reform. One thing to note I suppose is that it is the government that does this and not the Dáil itself making its own rules. On the reforms themselves, the phrase ‘a day late and a dollar short’ comes to mind.

dail order

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Dáil Reform Note

The Programme for Government outlined an ambitious agenda for Dáil Reform to be introduced in a phased process over the lifetime of this Government.

The first phase of Dáil Reforms introduced in the summer of 2011 included: Continue reading

Let’s think about the type of inquiry that will work before we set one up

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The current calls for some form of inquiry into the economic collapse and the government’s response to it are understandable in the light of the Anglo tapes. While they probably didn’t reveal much that we hadn’t already suspected, their tone was abhorrent to most. What is not reasonable is that we concentrate our blame on the banks for the debacle. They were probably doing what any interest group does when looking for government assistance – they bluff. Continue reading

So how should the Dáil be reformed?

As set out in a previous post on this Forum (see here), Dáil reform is long overdue: this government’s efforts (to date and promised) are piecemeal, insufficient and in some instances completely – and arguably deliberately – miss the point (the most prominent example being Seanad abolition).

So what reforms should they implement? This post sets out some preliminary ideas in the hope of stimulating others. It’s prompted by an op ed in today’s Irish Times in which Conor Brady proposes ‘Ten Reforms’ that should be introduced ‘to make the Oireachtas more effective, more accountable and better respected by the people it serves’. Continue reading