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Fairness in Dáil speaking time… October 21, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Well now, intriguing to read this debate here where Micheál Martin has pushed back against the current speaking time allocations in the Dáil. And to see that FG echoes his point.

Deputy Micheál Martin:   On a point of order, that Dáil reform committee is not formed under the D’Hondt system and its representation does not reflect the various strengths in the House. We have a situation—–
An Ceann Comhairle:   We are not getting into that.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   You opened this matter, a Cheann Comhairle.
An Ceann Comhairle:   Resume your seat.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   Large parties in the House—–
An Ceann Comhairle:   Wait now—–
Deputy Micheál Martin:   —–do not get fairness in the allocation of speaking time. We will have a pre-Council debate tomorrow and a party with five Members will have the same amount of speaking time as a party with 44.
An Ceann Comhairle:   Deputy Martin, please resume your seat.
Deputy Simon Coveney:   The Deputy is right about that.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   I am resuming my seat. You raised the issue and I am responding to it with a point of order.
An Ceann Comhairle:   I did raise the issue of Dáil reform.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   What is happening at present is not satisfactory. I do not know how many times we have to communicate that.
An Ceann Comhairle:   I do not wish to have an argument with you but the Dáil reform committee was established on the basis of an agreed motion in the House.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   Yes, before everything else was agreed.

Interesting too this:

(Speaker Continuing)
[Deputy Micheál Martin:  ] It demeans the budget and the House to state that the budget can be discussed only in the graveyard slot between 10 p.m. and midnight. The last Dáil, for example, was able to convene at 9.30 a.m. to take Question Time or various other items—–
Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:   What is wrong with 8 o’clock?
Deputy Micheál Martin:   —–that did not involve divisions.
Deputy Simon Coveney:   This is the first time it has been raised. The Deputy should raise it with the Business Committee.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   It was raised.
Deputy Michael Healy-Rae:   There is nothing wrong with starting at 8 o’clock.
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Regina Doherty):   It absolutely was not raised.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   It was raised consistently. Many Members have been raising this consistently and I have been saying it for a long time. It is just not sustainable. I agree with the suggestion that the attack on Aleppo be debated on Thursday afternoon.
An Ceann Comhairle:   Let us be very clear before we get involved in a protracted debate on this. Deputy Martin has made his view on the sittings patently clear. However, the proposal for the current arrangements for sittings, which was adopted by the House, came from the all-party Sub-Committee on Dáil Reform, which was equally emphatic about the principle of dividing the week’s work between plenary sessions and committee sessions. That was a principled decision taken by the reform committee, of which the Deputy’s party was a part. For that to change, and it can change—–
Deputy Micheál Martin:   It can change.
An Ceann Comhairle:   It can, because nothing is written in stone, but it would be necessary for the Dáil reform committee to revisit the matter. That has been considered and a date will be fixed for that type of review to take place.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   On a point of order, that Dáil reform committee is not formed under the D’Hondt system and its representation does not reflect the various strengths in the House. We have a situation—–
An Ceann Comhairle:   We are not getting into that.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   You opened this matter, a Cheann Comhairle.
An Ceann Comhairle:   Resume your seat.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   Large parties in the House—–
An Ceann Comhairle:   Wait now—–
Deputy Micheál Martin:   —–do not get fairness in the allocation of speaking time. We will have a pre-Council debate tomorrow and a party with five Members will have the same amount of speaking time as a party with 44.
An Ceann Comhairle:   Deputy Martin, please resume your seat.
Deputy Simon Coveney:   The Deputy is right about that.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   I am resuming my seat. You raised the issue and I am responding to it with a point of order.
An Ceann Comhairle:   I did raise the issue of Dáil reform.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   What is happening at present is not satisfactory. I do not know how many times we have to communicate that.
An Ceann Comhairle:   I do not wish to have an argument with you but the Dáil reform committee was established on the basis of an agreed motion in the House.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   Yes, before everything else was agreed.
An Ceann Comhairle:   I call Deputy Howlin.
Deputy Brendan Howlin:   I happen to be a member of the Sub-Committee on Dáil Reform. It might not be a D’Hondt system, although Fianna Fáil has three members on it, but I cannot recall any issue being decided by a majority vote. It always worked on the basis of consensus. There are issues in this Dáil with providing a proper time basis for the Opposition to have formal debates in the House, for the Government to have adequate time for formal debates and for the committees, which are very busy. There is another proposition before the reform committee tomorrow to increase the committee time allocation, because the 18 working committees of the House do not have sufficient time to do their work either. I believe there will be a good deal of tweaking.
However, to return to the Business Committee report before the House, if there is a vacant time slot I strongly support the proposal to have a debate on Syria. It is a moral imperative for the House to debate that issue and if Thursday presents such an opportunity, I strongly support the principle of doing that. As a matter of commentary, it is neither a useful allocation of resources nor is it respectful to Members to expect people to make their contribution on the budget at midnight tonight. It is not a sensible proposal to allow the issues that they raise to be heard or for the budget to be given adequate focus.
Deputy Regina Doherty:   I wish to respond to two issues that were mentioned. In response to Deputy Smith, I never said at the committee last week that there would be a debate in the House. I said that it would be referred to the committee for debate, which is exactly what the proposal is today. In response to Deputy Martin, his party’s member of the committee did not raise the subject Deputy Martin has just raised.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   He is adamant that he did.
Deputy Regina Doherty:   Fianna Fáil did ask for extra time and we agreed on the extra time. The Deputy did not have to forego Private Members’ time, and the committee did not make any decision to forego any party’s Private Members’ time, which is why we are discussing having the debate between 10 p.m. and midnight.
Deputy Micheál Martin:   We were told—–
Deputy Regina Doherty:   It would be nice if the Deputy would let me speak. I agree with the Deputy that the allocation of speaking time in the House is not reflective of the proportionate nature of Members’ mandates.
By the by, what kicked this off was the near ridiculous late sitting times in the Dáil. Apparently TDs don’t want to sit on Friday’s so hence the late sittings during the week.

Note Michael Healy-Rae (as others have said) received no answer at all to his question.

Comments»

1. dublinstreams - October 21, 2016

Martin wants everything FF way, does he want only 30 seconds giving to the smaller parties, they have to be given a proper chunk of time its impossible to actually have it in proportion.

as part Dail refom they carved out a block of time in the morning for uninterrupted committees, seems they want to go back on that, what constitutes consensus at business committees is a mystery as it was when it was just a whips meeting.

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