The Taoiseach and Tánaiste announced Dáil reform measures today – two and a half years after the 2011 election.
According to the Irish Times report by Stephen Collins, the measures will only come into force if the electorate gives a mandate to abolish the Seanad. At first glance the commitment to consult experts and civil society before the pre-legislative stage to develop legislation before Bills are drafted is positive and in line with the OECD’s 2008 recommendations in its report on Ireland.
Why are some of the announced measures contingent on the Seanad referendum passing?
4 thoughts on “Dáil reform ?”
With respect, many of the reforms, like the legislative process in the image above, would hardly make sense if a Seanad was maintained after the referendum.
I suppose because some of them are designed to make up what some think will be lost with abolition of the Seanad, i.e. extra time for reflection. So they are irrelevant in the context of keeping the Seanad.
Extra reflection and the opportunity for greater legislative scrutiny is necessary anyway, not irrelevant.
It’s difficult to dispute that legislative scrutiny is not sufficient at present. With c.57% of legislation getting the guillotine, one would have to promise doubling the hours worked for expansion of scrutiny to be convincing – and that stands alone from abolition/reform of Seanad Éireann. Similarly, the pre-legislative stage is new and not a duplication of any existing Seanad function so, even if you doubt it’s merit, it’s hard to make the case that is irrelevant without abolition.
All of this remains underwritten by the fact that the standing orders can be waived by the Dáil majority whenever it sees fit (as commonly seen with the by-passing of the four-stage legislative procedure). With all references to legislative procedure and deliberation remaining in the Constitution post-abolition, expect the pre-legislative stage to be waived much more frequently than the emergency case mooted and the guillotine to continue at close to current levels.
I hope, of course, that I’m incorrect.