Dail to sit earlier and on more Fridays as part of reforms
Key elements to come into force if electorate votes to abolish Seanad on October 4th
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said creating a more effective political system was at the heart of the Government’s reform agenda, but conceded it would not please everyone. Photograph: Barry Cronin/PA Wire
A major programme of Dáil reform was unveiled today by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.
Some of the key elements in the package will come into force if the electorate votes to abolish the Seanad on October 4th.
Mr Kenny said creating a more effective political system was at the heart of the Government’s reform agenda, but conceded it would not please everyone.
Document: Dáil Reform Note
“We could sit seven days a week for 15 hours a day and that still would not satisfy everyone,” said Mr Kenny.
“This phase of our Dáil reform programme will deliver real improvements to the Dáil’s examination of legislation and scrutiny of budgets and spending. It will also bring civil society, interest groups and experts into the legislative process at an early stage,” he said.
Mr Gilmore said the Government had come to office with a commitment to fix our broken politics.
“These Dáil reforms are one part of a wider agenda to make our parliament more effective and more efficient, to open up the legislative process to more scrutiny and more voices, and to shine a light on Government,” he said.
The reforms to be implemented in the next few weeks include the following:
l The Dáil will start earlier each day, meeting at 12.30pm on Tuesday and 9.30am on Wednesday and Thursday.
l Friday sittings will take place every second week and be extended to include a two-hour debate on a Private Member’s Bill and a two-hour discussion of a Committee Report.
lThere will be a more structured system for drafting and enactment of legislation and reduced use of the guillotine.
l Oireachtas committees will be able to consult civil society groups, advocacy groups and individuals with expertise in a specific area at pre-legislative stage to develop legislation before Bills are drafted.
l Pre-legislative stage will be a requirement for all Bills. Where a Minister does not bring a Bill to committee for pre-legislative stage, they will be required to outline to both the Cabinet and the Dáil the reasons for this decision.
There will also be extended involvement of Oireachtas committees in the budget process.
With the Budget now being announced in October, the Oireachtas Committees will carry out the Estimates process between Budget day and the Christmas recess, allowing them to review the Estimates in advance of any funding being spent.
Oireachtas committees can review the annual Stability Programme Update provided by the Government to the EU between April and the summer recess and provide Government departments with a report in advance of the October Budget.
The Government has also decided that under a unicameral system, the next Dáil would include an enhanced Oireachtas committee system and an additional pre-enactment stage in the legislative process.