TDs face earlier start in morning when Dáil returns

Controversial changes on amount of speaking time for TDs also to be introduced

Under the new system,  TDs from larger parties will be allowed more Dáil speaking time.  Photograph: Alan Betson

Under the new system, TDs from larger parties will be allowed more Dáil speaking time. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

TDs will go some way to answering Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s call to “get up early in the morning” when the Dáil begins to meet at 10.30am.

The Dáil is currently adjourned until Wednesday, September 20th, at 2pm, but as the autumn session continues, later opening times will be scrapped to allow for an earlier start.

This will allow for three additional hours a week to be allocated to debating Government legislation on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when discussion normally begins at 12pm.

Meanwhile, controversial changes on the amount of speaking time TDs are allowed will also be introduced.

When Mr Varadkar became Taoiseach in June, he argued that representatives from smaller parties received what he viewed as a disproportionate amount of time to contribute to debate in the chamber.

Speaking time for statements in the Dáil were allocated with 15 minutes for the Government and 10 minutes for each of the seven Opposition parties and groups, regardless of their size.

Now TDs from larger parties will be allowed more time to air their views, with increased time for groupings with more TDs. The Government says this reflects the electoral mandate of parties and groups in the Dáil, although some Opposition deputies continue to object.

New system

Under the new system, the Government, with its 57 TDs, will be allocated 31 minutes while Fianna Fáil, with its 44 TDs, will get 24 minutes.

Sinn Féin, with its 23 TDs, will get 13 minutes and the five smaller parties and groups will get 10 minutes each.

The five smaller parties are Labour, Solidarity-People Before Profit, the Greens, the Social Democrats and Independents4Change.

Analysis by KildareStreet.com, a searchable database of everything said in the Oireachtas, recently found Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs had spoken the most times on average. The parties accounted for just four per cent of the seats in the Dáil, but had made 7.5 per cent of the spoken contributions since the beginning of 2017.