New system of politics not working, claims Micheál Martin

The new system of politics is not working and must be reviewed, according to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School last night, he questioned whether a minority government and diverse parliament can deliver “credible decisions on important issues”.

Mr Martin has said the Dáil is “still unsettled”, and added that the “absurd situation” now exists which allows small groupings more speaking time than those in the two largest parties.

His comments come after a number of Fine Gael backbench TDs recently vented frustrations at their own parliamentary party meeting over a lack of speaking time in the Dáil.

Mr Martin said: “The changes to daily procedures are far from bedded down and need to be reviewed.

“There are a series of steps which are not yet in place which are critical to success.

“The most important of these is a budget office which will independently review the fiscal and economic impact of all proposals. This will help establish the principle that the proposals of every TD will be properly reviewed, and it will challenge empty political claims. It will also force government to base policy on a more credible review of costs.”

He added that the amount of time for government legislation needs to be increased to properly review the more important measures that will start to appear from October onwards.

Mr Martin hit out at the new system of allowing more technical groups such as the rural Independents, the AAA-PBP, and the Social Democrats, who have joined with the Green party to gain speaking rights.

“We have the absurd situation where the greater the mandate your party holds, the less opportunity you have to speak.

“Ad-hoc groupings of a few deputies have a right to be heard — but the grossly disproportionate amount of speaking time allocated to them, at the expense of dramatically larger parties, is certainly not conducive to a parliament which reflects the will of the people.

“The legitimate question has been asked as to whether a minority government and diverse parliament can deliver credible decisions on important issues.”

Turning to Brexit and the implications the exit vote may have on Ireland and the North, he said a “national dialogue” needs to be set up on both sides of the border.

He said these discussions should take place across the country to get a sense of how a Brexit will impact on different communities and sectors. “We need to draw those out with people and it could be a chance to bring Europe back to people.”

Mr Martin added that the Brexit vote now “threatens to set back a model of shared development which, in spite of many problems, has achieved a lot and could achieve much more.

“The introduction of new barriers between both parts of this island would potentially set us back decades.”


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