Coalition to have 70% of seats on Dáil committees

 

FINE GAEL and Labour TDs and Senators will have 70 per cent of seats on the 16 Oireachtas committees, the highest ever proportion of representation by Government members.

The committees for the 31st Dáil were established yesterday, and comprise 10 fewer committees than in the previous Dáil.

In all, there are 172 Government TDs and Senators assigned to the committees, with only 78 members of the Opposition. The Coalition parties will also chair all but three of the 16 committees.

There is one new committee, the Committee on Investigations, Oversights and Petitions, which is likely to be chaired by Sinn Féin’s Peadar Tóibín.

A number of the departmental committees have been merged to include three portfolios.

In a concession to the Opposition, the Government conceded on increasing the number of members on the Finance and Public Expenditure Committee to 21, to accommodate more members of the Opposition.

Whips from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the technical group argued that given the Government’s huge majority in both houses, the committees should not strictly follow party lines but be more representative of differing views.

However, Government chief whip Paul Kehoe said he was bound by standing orders that said the assignments to committees had to be proportionate to the Dáil representation of parties.

Elsewhere, the Fine Gael parliamentary party yesterday elected Laois Offaly TD Charlie Flanagan as party chairman. The other contender for the position was the new Carlow-Kilkenny Deputy, John Paul Phelan.

Wicklow TD Simon Harris was elected as party secretary.

The full list of committees are: Committee on Finance and Public Expenditure Reform; Committee on Health and Children; Committee on Communications, Energy, Natural Resources and Agriculture, Marine Food; Committee on Environment, Community and Local Government and Transport, Tourism Sport and Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs; Committee on Social Protection and Education Skills and Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation; Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence; Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade; Committee on European Affairs; Committee on Investigations, Oversights and Petitions; Committee on Good Friday Agreement; Public Accounts Committee; Committee on Members’ Interests, both Dáil and Seanad; Committee on Privilege and Procedure, both Dáil and Seanad.