Government to hear Bill to remove taoiseach’s right to set election

Shane Ross introduces amendment also designed to enforce fixed Dáil term

 Shane Ross: He said it gave an unfair advantage to the party in power that the taoiseach had the power to dissolve the Dáil and choose an election date. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/ The Irish Times

Shane Ross: He said it gave an unfair advantage to the party in power that the taoiseach had the power to dissolve the Dáil and choose an election date. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/ The Irish Times

 

The Government will not oppose the hearing of legislation to introduce a fixed Dáil term and remove power from a taoiseach to set the date of a general election.

Independent Alliance TD Shane Ross introduced the Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Fixed Period for the Duration of Dáil Éireann) Bill, to remove the right of a taoiseach to set the election date.

He said Taoiseach Enda Kenny had the power. “I’m asking that we take it away from him.”

Mr Kenny told him he would not oppose the legislation “but I remind the deputy that it is the president who dissolves the Dáil on the request of the taoiseach and that he can refuse if he so wishes”.

The Dublin South TD claimed it was a matter of great public concern. The “process has been brought into disrepute in recent times, particularly by the present Taoiseach”, he said, referring to the speculation about a snap election next month.

Mr Ross said it gave an unfair advantage to the party in power that the taoiseach had the power to dissolve the Dáil and choose an election date.

He believed “the problem is there is an abuse of executive power and it is embedded in the Constitution. Every taoiseach has looked as what the taoiseach did last week, at opinion polls, and decided on the date of the general election, depending simply and solely on his own popularity.”

He said that one day the Taoiseach decided that in the national interest that it would be held in November but the next he decided that in the national interest it would be held in February.