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Ministerial responsibility when you’re an Independent? Chance would be a fine thing, some might think. September 30, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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In the Independent yesterday Shane Coleman takes Shane Ross and the Independent Alliance to task over their stated aim of not being ‘captured’ by the cabinet government system. Coleman argues that the idea of IA Ministers – should any be lucky enough to be in such a position – not sitting at cabinet, but only reporting on their direct area of authority to the cabinet is actually unconstitutional.

The Constitution is generally a good place. Article 28, section 4, sub-section 2 states that the Government “shall meet and act as a collective authority, and shall be collectively responsible for the Departments of State administered by the members of the government”.
So collective responsibility, a system inherited from the Westminster model of government, is not just a political convention, it is required by Bunreacht na hÉireann.

Coleman may have a point, though it’s early days yet for the IA, a group which is remarkably reclusive for a formation seeking national support.

Still, ambition certainly isn’t lacking.

Questions aplenty there are, for example just how would an IA Minister refer back to the rest of the IA – how would they be kept in check if necessary, or how would they make decisions and on whose behalf? The IA sounds so loosely knit its hard to know whether it would function in any recognisable way to other parties or groups. For example, if given a Minister which one would it be? One that dovetailed with some sort of similarity of views on the part of the IA TDs? And what would that be?

What, indeed, are the views of the IA? It’s all a bit of a mystery.

The last TD to sit as a Minister from a non-party, almost literally so, was Mary Harney after the PDs had disbanded. It’s an interesting question as to who she represented, isn’t it?

Whether any other political parties would bite – in terms of inviting them into the fold is a different matter again. I’m sceptical. Others may differ.

On another matter Coleman definitely has a point:

There’s no shortage of collective responsibility, at least publicly, in the current coalition but humility often seems to be in short supply.
Micheál Martin has a point when he accuses the government running the most negative re-election campaign in the history of the State.

And while I wouldn’t agree with the next line, he’s not wrong about the broader dynamic.

Even those of us who believe the Coalition has done a really decent job in difficult circumstances cringe at the self-regarding ‘we saved the country’ hubris that comes from the mouths of some ministers.
It was on full display in last week’s confidence motion as a succession of them chose to ignore the very serious findings of the Fennelly inquiry in favour of back-slapping “steering the ship of state from chaos to calm” type guff.

As Coleman points out, the idea they’re the only show in town is much mistaken.

Comments»

1. dublinstreams - September 30, 2015

not sure where he said it but reported in ST first € http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/ireland/News/Irish_News/article1612584.ece

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