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Pearse Doherty moves Bill to allow opposition TDs to introduce financial measures

16 April, 2014 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty today moved the 34th Amendment of the Constitution (Inclusive Budget Reform Bill) in the Dáil which will allow opposition TDs to introduce legislation and other measures that will incur a cost by the state.

Speaking after moving the Bill, the Sinn Féin TD for Donegal South-West said:

“This is a short Bill but one that could have a significant impact on how the Dáil operates and how budgets are set in the future. I have brought it forward in the context of the Constitutional Convention and the national debate on political reform, north and south.

“It is a constant source of great frustration to opposition TDs that positive, well thought out Bills can be simply ignored because of a constitutional bar on opposition TDs bringing forward financial measures.

“For example last year I drafted a Bill that would make stateless multinational companies tax resident in Ireland by default should they had no other residence. Although the Bill was not allowed to be introduced onto the Order Paper at the time, in a matter of months later the government brought in virtually the same Bill in their Budget.

“In addition each year the Finance Committee pours through the Budget and tries to make amendments. Members of the committee have great difficulty in finding a wording that won’t be ruled out of order.

“The Constitutional bar on opposition TDs bringing forward financial measures makes a mockery of the debate each year with opposition TDs neutered to the point of comedy at times. There must be a better way and this Bill is designed to open up that debate.

“This government has spoken a lot about political reform but its actions have not matched its words. In particular it has disappointed many in carrying on the same Fianna Fáil way of doing business in the Dail and Seanad.

“In fact through the creation of the Economic Management Council they have gone even further down the road of unaccountable sub-committees with four middle aged men in suits making decisions for the country.

“Sinn Féin was the only opposition party to produce a fully costed alternative budget. We take our role as an opposition very seriously. That is why I believe by repealing this constitutional bar we can have a healthier, more robust culture of debate in our Parliament, a better opposition and a more accountable government.”

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