Stephen Collins writing in last Saturday’s Irish Times he argues that one of the big commitments made by the Coalition during the February election and again after it took office was that it would reform the political system. He adds that while there have been some welcome changes to date, they represent a tinkering at the edges rather than fundamental reform.
He correctly identifies that at the heart of the matter is the fact that outside the 15 members of the Cabinet the rest of the Dáil has little or no role in the formulation of legislation. Until Oireachtas committees are given a real say in the drafting of legislation and the formulation of budgets, reform will be little more than skin deep.
Is he correct that given the predictable way the Opposition behaves in the Dáil, it is questionable whether most of our politicians really have any interest in being legislators?
Certainly simply having a cut in TD numbers and abolition of the Senate at the heart of the political reform agenda is insufficient. More should be done to increase the power of backbenchers and I would argue to involve the people in decision making between elections.