FG’s David Stanton criticises poor attendance at committee meetings

Candidates for Ceann Comhairle must have support of seven TDs under new Dáil rules

Fine Gael’s David Stanton: told the Dáil it should be a “privilege to be a member of a committee, not a right”.

Fine Gael’s David Stanton: told the Dáil it should be a “privilege to be a member of a committee, not a right”.

 

A Fine Gael TD has criticised the poor attendance by some members of the House at Dáil committee meetings. Chairman of the Oireachtas Justice Committee David Stanton said committee meeting attendances were a “big problem”. Many members did not feel compelled to show up because of a lack of media coverage.

He told the Dáil it should be a “privilege to be a member of a committee, not a right”, and TDs should be a member of one committee only, with only 15 members to a committee. This would avoid people having to be at two meetings at the same time.

Mr Stanton also called for the time a TD or Senator spent in a committee to be “logged and noted from the time they arrive to the time they leave, minute by minute”.

The Cork East TD was speaking during a short Dáil debate on a motion to give effect to the Taoiseach’s pledge that the Ceann Comhairle or speaker of the Dáil will from now on be elected by secret ballot.

Standing Orders

Paul Kehoe

Nominees will be allowed to speak for five minutes before a vote by proportional representation.

Mr Kehoe also said the committee chairpersons would be allocated on the basis of the d’Hondt system; the strength of the parties. And under the new rules the next taoiseach will appear before the committee chairpersons twice a year.

Mr Stanton said the single biggest reform in his 19 years in the Dáil was the introduction of pre-legislative scrutiny, for which he praised Mr Kehoe.

“In the past five years 7,386 people have come in before Dáil committees, have given evidence and engaged with their parliament.” They had had an impact on legislation before it was drafted.

“That is a huge change,” he said, but nobody was talking about it and there was no media coverage “because it does not involve fireworks in the Chamber, grandstanding, sitting-in and that type of nonsense. It does not get headlines.”

Criticising the poor attendance of some TDs at committees, he said “somebody who arrives at a meeting, makes one contribution and leaves gets the same credit as somebody who spends hours debating at the meeting”.

Fianna Fáil’s Robert Troy said the Coalition’s plan for “far-reaching” political reform rang hollow. He described the Friday Dáil sittings when individual TDs’ legislation was discussed as a “farce” because only one TD had had his legislation enacted in five years.

Utterly absurd

Independent Maureen O’Sullivan said a major issue was the lack of respect for the role of the Ceann Comhairle and it had “not enhanced the public perception of the Dáil and Dáil proceedings”.