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Stanley condemns decision to reduce number of TDs in Dáil

19 July, 2011 - by Brian Stanley TD

Speaking on the Electoral (Amendment) Bill this evening, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Environment, Community and Local Government Brian Stanley TD criticised the decision by the Government to reduce the number of TDs in the Dáil in the absence of any meaningful political reform in the State.

The Laois-Offaly TD said;

“While Sinn Féin welcomes the provision of the six month rule for the holding of by-elections to the Dáil we take serious issue with the provision in the Bill to reduce the number of TDs to as little as 153 in the absence of any meaningful political reform. There is no corresponding enhancement of local authority powers either. It is unacceptable. There is a still a question regarding the constitutionality of this Bill.

“Reducing the number of TDs is not going to make it any more representative or enable people to participate any more effectively in democracy on this island. It won’t mean there will be any more people from low-income backgrounds who are voiceless in political debates. This is all about being seen to be doing something even if it will have no actual effect on reforming politics whatsoever.

“The hands of the Constituency Commission are still tied in that they cannot recommend anything more than three, four, or five seat constituencies. We are calling for proportional representation to be strengthened through the introduction of larger multi-seat constituencies. It is absolutely essential that more than just token gestures are made when it comes to democracy and political reform so we have tabled an amendment to this effect.

“We also proposed that political parties should be obliged to furnish their accounts to the Standards in Public Offices Commission so that all political funding is out in the open. Members of organisations the length and breadth of the country get to see their accounts every year, whether it’s a community development project in Tullamore or a GAA club in Lifford or a women’s centre in Middleton.

“Sinn Féin, as an exercise in financial transparency, has published our full accounts and handed them to the media for a number of years. Publication of these accounts should be a prerequisite before a single cent of public money is allocated to a political party in that calendar year.

“We are right to demand the highest financial standards from those in receipt of state money, or those in the employment of the State, so the government should be willing to do this. It is disappointing that the Government parties chose to vote against our amendments which would have made meaningful change to the political process in this state.”


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