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Government’s Response to the Constitutional Convention’s Report on Dáil Reform

 

The Government at its meeting today considered a memorandum on the Seventh Report of the Convention on the Constitution, on Dáil reform. Following the meeting, the Government has decided to proceed with a number of immediate reforms that will come into effect at the outset of the next Dáil.
During the final term the Government will seek Dáil approval to introduce three changes that will come into effect in the next Dáil including:
1. The election of the Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot.
2. The proportionate allocation of Oireachtas Committee Chairs under the d’Hondt system.
3. The Taoiseach to appear regularly before the Working Group of Committee Chairs.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, T.D. said: “These three steps taken together represent a significant shift in power from the Government to the Oireachtas. The Government is suggesting reforms which will empower parliament and allow TDs to hold the executive to account.”
He added: “TDs will for the first time since the foundation of the State elect the office of Ceann Comhairle, the Chairperson of the Dáil, by secret ballot. The office will now be more independent of the Government of the day and the holder of the office will be directly linked to their fellow members of the Dáil like never before. The Ceann Comhairle's authority will come directly from T.D.s, both Government and Opposition, given the opportunity by secret ballot to elect the person to that office.”
This Government has taken a number of steps to increase the power of Oireachtas Committees over the lifetime of this Dáil and the selection of Oireachtas Committee Chairs using the d'Hondt system will enhance this. The current structure guarantees the Government the vast majority of Committee Chairs but this reform will distribute those Chairs on the basis of Dáil support. Such a change will give Opposition TDs more powerful roles in the next Dáil.
Government support for the Taoiseach appearing before the Working Group of Oireachtas Committee Chairs will further enhance the accountability of the office of the Taoiseach to the Oireachtas reinforcing parliament’s power to hold the Government to account.