Politicians should serve a maximum of two terms in the Dáil because anything longer is bad for politics.
Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW Seán Canney believes TDs do not have a “divine right” to a seat in Leinster House and, like the President of Ireland, should be capped at spending two terms or 10 years in the Dáil.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner Mr Canney said: “I don’t think I have the divine right to be a TD for 20 years or 30 years or anything like that and I don’t think it’s good for politics that people remain in place for as long as that, for the simple reason that they get stagnant, sometimes your enthusiasm will wane.
“I would prefer to see someone giving it 10 good years, giving it all and then let somebody else have a go at it and see can they better that or can they bring a fresh approach to things because everything evolves, including politics.”
The junior minister’s comments could be seen to be pointed at many in Fine Gael who share government with the Independent Alliance.
This includes Taoiseach Enda Kenny who has been a TD for 41 years and Finance Minister Michael Noonan who was first elected in 1981.
“You have people who are entrenched in being elected every time that they forget about getting things done, they play politics at its best to save their seats,” the Galway East TD said.
“If I am in here to save my seat for the next time, if that’s my primary motivation then I think I am on a loser.”
Mr Canney, who worked as a lecturer in GMIT before his election to the Dáil this year, also highlighted the merits of serving time at local government before running for the Dáil.
He said that it was noticeable in government negotiation talks between the Independents and Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that he was more experienced than some of those who had previously sat around cabinet tables.
“We were in the throes of the government negotiations and I could see that I knew a lot about things that other men and women in the room didn’t know about, in the sense that I had 12 years of being a councillor behind me.
“Boxer Moran had 15 years of being a councillor behind him, we were actually more clued in to some things than some people who were there for a long time, who were in Government.”
Although he stopped short of calling to make it mandatory to serve at local government level before running at national level, Mr Canney said it “gives you a good sense of what people are thinking and what the deficiencies are out there”.
“It’s a great grounding on how politics work, you learn how to negotiate with officials, you learn how budgets are prepared and you learn how to get things done. I think that’s what you need.”
Mr Canney, who was one of seven Independent Alliance members elected to the current Dáil, claimed the differences of opinion and political output is in fact a positive within the grouping.
Although the group has already lost one member in Michael Fitzmaurice, he believes the alliance will be strengthened after the next election.
“I think there is an opportunity for the Independent Alliance to grow. We will get that opportunity maybe in the next local election where I would hope that we would see more councillors getting elected using the banner of the Independent Alliance.”
Turning to the partnership government with Fine Gael Mr Canney said he believes it will last. “This partnership government will work provided everybody focuses on the programme for government. The programme is good for the people.”
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