Adams welcomes interim report on Dáil reform
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has welcomed the interim report on Dáil reform produced by the committee established in March.
The Sinn Féin leader called for significant further political reform, as well as the proper regulation of the Dáil bar and of sitting times.
The Louth TD, speaking in the Dáil this evening, said:
“Some useful progress has been made, but much more is required if Dáil reform is to be meaningful. Meaningful reform of the Dáil doesn’t just mean tweaking standing orders, or how we schedule business.
“It also means reforming the institution more generally, and getting away from the more antiquated practises that prevail within these precincts.
“Meaningful reform of how we conduct our business should include:
· the provision of northern representation,
· ending the practice of excluding the introduction of money bills from the opposition benches,
· affording Dáil committees the power to introduce legislation.
“One issue I raised many times with the previous Ceann Comhairle and with the Committee of Procedures and Privileges is the fact that in a place of work, there is a facility for members of the Dáil and Seanad to have access to, not one, but two bars. That is for me absolutely bizarre.
“The fact that its opening hours are operated on the basis of parliamentary privilege is equally bizarre and that issue needs to be addressed urgently in my view.
“We also have the unacceptable situation, whereby the media facilities for opposition parties and TDs are limited to either the plinth or the portico. There isn’t even media access to what is described as the audio/visual room here in Leinster House. The media should also have access to modern facilities and to briefings on matters of importance that have been organised by opposition parties or TDs. They should be able to report from the Oireachtas in as professional and as modern a way as possible.
“We also need to address the issue of late sittings, and the bar opening times. These have an adverse impact on the staff within the Oireachtas, including the ushers, the catering staff and all others, who we are so dependent on. It is totally unacceptable that staff should be stuck here, sometimes to the early hours of the morning, because some TD wants an after-hours drink for themselves and their friends.
“I would hope that in the coming weeks, as the Reform Committee continues its work, that all of the issues, and not just those related to the chamber itself, can be open for discussion and change.”