TDs will be able to officially put on the Dáil record why they are abstaining or voting against legislation or a measure under reform of parliamentary rules.

Proposals to extend the number of small or technical groups of deputies who can join forces in the Dáil and also take part in Leaders’ Questions will be ready next month.

A committee on Dáil reform met last night to go through proposed changes, a report on which has been seen by the Irish Examiner.

Plans for a new budgetary committee, a special budget office, and a new business committee have more or less been agreed by a cross-party group of TDs. There are plans for an Irish language committee and a rearrangement of sitting days so the Dáil, where possible, does not clash with committee meetings.

In total, there are plans for 24 committees, many of which will shadow departments.

Up to four different rounds of Leaders’ Questions will now be held three days a week under the changes. These will allow for the new makeup of the Dáil to be better represented when it comes to asking questions of the Taoiseach or ministers.

The question time will be timed by an electronic clock in the Dáil chamber.

A new rule will allow TDs to formally put on the record of the Dáil why they voted against a legislative proposal or measure and, equally, to offer an explanation if they abstain during.

The Dáil reform committee report states: “Members will be able to place an explanation on the Dáil record as to why they voted a particular way. Also, for the first time, members can be recorded as definitely abstaining from any particular vote.”

A full debate on the changes will be held tomorrow and further amendments are then expected to be made before the rules come before the Dáil next Tuesday.

Specific changes to standing orders/rules to allow the creation of more technical groups and, therefore, Dáil speaking rights for smaller groups of TDs are believed to be a number of weeks away from being completed.


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