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Ó Caoláin calls for rotation of Oireachtas Committee Chairpersons

11 October, 2007


Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called for the rotation of Oireachtas Committee Chairpersons on a yearly or two yearly basis. Speaking in the Dáil today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said Committee chairs should not be doled out as goodies for Government backbenchers and disappointed aspirants to ministerial office.

He said, "It is disgraceful that we are now four months on from the General Election and still no Oireachtas Committees have been formed. The Dáil and Seanad did not return until the end of the September. No committee work was done in August or September because the Committees were not in place. This brings the Dáil and Seanad into disrepute.

"It needs to be stated very clearly in this debate that every singe TD and Senator should have the right to a place on an Oireachtas Committee. Obviously all members cannot have the committee place of their choice but every single one of them should have access in order to fulfil their role as legislators and representatives comprehensively. It is totally unacceptable that Committee places are 'divvied up' by the larger parties and that smaller parties such as Sinn Fein and independents have to depend on larger parties giving up places to them in order to gain access. This must change and each party and the section of the electorate they represent must be given due recognition in the Oireachtas.

"The Government closely guards its majorities on committees and its power to nominate Committee chairpersons. There should be a sharing of Chairperson positions and there should be rotation of chairs on a yearly or two-yearly basis. Committee chairs should not be doled out as goodies for Government backbenchers and disappointed aspirants to ministerial office.

"While the Government, as I have said, jealously guards its Committee places, it is not so vigilant about ensuring that its members fully participate in Committee work. I have found that very often while Opposition members have good attendance records they are faced with one or two Government representatives at meetings who are just sent in to 'keep the side up'." ENDS

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