Independent TD Michael McNamara wants to be Ceann Comhairle

Deadline for applications for speaker of the Dáil job is Wednesday

Several TDs have indicated their interest in the position of Ceann Comhairle. Photograph: Alan Betson

Several TDs have indicated their interest in the position of Ceann Comhairle. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Independent TD Michael McNamara has expressed interest in becoming Ceann Comhairle and has written to Oireachtas members seeking their support for his nomination.

The former Labour Party TD set out a series of proposals for Dáil reform in a letter emailed to colleagues on Monday night and said he would be interested in taking the role for just six months while reforms are implemented.

The 45-year-old barrister and farmer, who topped the poll in the Clare constituency, is the latest in a series of names to be linked to the job.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Ceann Comhairle in the last Dáil, is putting himself forward for re-election. Independent Roscommon TD Denis Naughten is also expected to run. There was speculation that Fine Gael TDs Bernard Durkan and Fergus O’Dowd might run, but they have ruled themselves out.

The Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy announced on Tuesday  night that she would not contest the role as she preferred to remain “a fully active” parliamentarian.

The position will be decided when the 33rd Dáil meets on Thursday for the first time. Applicants need seven TDs to sign their nomination papers in order to be a candidate, and the deadline for applications is 6pm on Wednesday.

Money message

In his letter to colleagues, Mr McNamara proposed the establishment of a Dáil reform committee that would report back in three months on issues including the “money message” which used by government to halt legislation it says would impose a financial burden on the Exchequer.

He said the money message “along with the advice of the Attorney General, whose constitutional remit is to provide advice to the Government rather than the Dáil, has become a method by which the Government seeks to stymie and usurp the legislative function of the Dáil”.

“Their use needs to be re-examined and curtailed,” he said.

Mr McNamara also called for reform of how parliamentary questions are answered, and claimed they have “become an exercise in obfuscation rather than in transparency and open government”.

He also proposes changes to how the order of speakers in Dáil debates is determined. “The degree to which this function is currently delegated to whips is scarcely compatible with democracy in an increasingly diverse and fractured Dáil.”

Mr McNamara added that “if another candidate, or candidates, would agree to carry out this reform agenda, I would gladly support their candidature instead”.