In a statement released a short time ago Roscommon Galway TD Denis Naughten confirmed that he met and had “frank discussions with” An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, and leader of the opposition Micheál Martin TD on the formation of a new Government.
He said “In the course of both meetings I made it clear that I am more than willing to play my role in assisting in the formation of a stable Government which would be in a position to implement an agreed programme. I pointed out that a pre-condition to participating in any Government is a fundamental reform of the way in which Dáil Eireann operates, which currently is a 19th Century model dealing with the 21st Century problems.”
“If anything we have seen reform in reverse over the term of the last Dáil and the public will no longer tolerate the system whereby the “gang of 4″, namely the Economic Management Council (EMC), makes the decisions for all the citizens of this country, which are then rubber stamped by the Cabinet and rammed through a Dáil that spends much of its time bickering.”
“With that in mind I presented both leaders with a set of 10 changes to the current rules of Dáil Eireann (Standing Orders) which would help to empower individual members of the Dáil whether they are in a party or outside one. These changes would incentivise and reward TDs who want to make a positive contribution to the parliamentary process rather than those who continually highlight problems but rarely provide constructive solutions. A number of independent members of Dáil Eireann support these proposals, which have been circulated to all members currently outside a recognised Dáil grouping (see below).”
“Finally, I made it clear to both leaders that many independent members of Dáil Eireann are hungry for change, not necessarily for power, and that we are more than willing to work with any potential government in a spirit of co-operation to secure the inclusion of practical and implementable measures in a Programme for Government which is focused on delivering for provincial and rural Ireland.”
The following are the proposed changes to Dáil Standing Orders put forward by Deputy Naughten, which he feels will empower members of Dáil Éireann.
1. Reduce threshold for formation of a group from 7 to any group of 5 members who wish to work together, and who express this in writing to the Ceann Comhairle.
2. Allow the Dáil to set the agenda – remove Taoiseach’s prerogative on order of business. Replace current whips with Business committees representative of all members with chair to rotate on six monthly basis, between all groups.
3. Ban motions on the order of business prefaced with “notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders” ensuring business is conducted within Standing orders.
4. Allow free votes at Oireachtas Committees including on legislation.
5. Rotate the Leas Cheann Comhairligh on an annual basis – to ensure all members are represented.
6. Increase the number of opportunities for Private members time on weekly basis and this time should not be confined to recognised groups or parties. ( may be the case that it would require 3 signatures as is the case in the Seanad for a private members Bill)
7. Replace Topical Issues with 6 commencement motions at the start of the day’s business (similar to Seanad Éireann)
8. Provide full legislative drafting service to all TDs.
9. Allow a member to introduce amendments creating a charge upon the State, by moving the requirement of the sanctioning money message by the Government under Article 17. 2 of the Constitution, from before committee stage to before 5th stage. This allows these amendments to be debated in Dáil, instead of being rules out of order.
10. In addition the catch all interpretation where any amendment which has the potential to create a charge is disallowed should be relaxed and should only come into play if the actual charge is met under the Bill