Cabinet agrees political reforms to come into effect for next Dail

‘Steps a significant shift in power from the Government to the Oireachtas,’ Kenny says

The Government has decided to proceed immediately with a number of political reforms including the election of the next Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot. Photograph: Alan Betson

The Government has decided to proceed immediately with a number of political reforms including the election of the next Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The Government has decided to proceed immediately with a number of political reforms including the election of the next Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot.

At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday Ministers considered a memorandum on the seventh report of the Convention on the Constitution, on Dáil reform.

They decided to proceed with a number of immediate reforms that will come into effect at the outset of the next Dáil.

In a statement the Government said it would seek Dáil approval to introduce three changes that will come into effect in the next Dáil.

The key measures include the election of the Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot; the proportionate allocation of Oireachtas Committee Chairs under the d’Hondt system and regular appearances by the Taoiseach before the working group of committee chairs.

“These three steps taken together represent a significant shift in power from the Government to the Oireachtas,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

He said the reforms would empower parliament and allow TDs to hold the executive to account.

“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 TDs, both Government and Opposition, given the opportunity by secret ballot to elect the person to that office,” Mr Kenny said.

He added that the Coalition had already taken a number of steps to increase the power of Oireachtas committees and the selection of Oireachtas committee chairs using the d’Hondt system would enhance this.

Mr Kenny said the current structure guaranteed the Government the vast majority of committee chairs but this reform would distribute those chairs on the basis of Dáil support and give Opposition TDs more powerful roles in the next Dáil.