Whip-style bullying is illegal in workplace

It is time to reform the Oireachtas.

Begin with the Dáil by addressing the democratic deficit of the ‘whip’ system. The role is used to bully public representatives into conforming to the diktat of their party ‘leader’ rather than to the views of the people who elected them.

We, the people, elect ‘messengers’ to represent us. Upon election, the electorate becomes irrelevant and TDs become pawns of political parties. Muzzled and disallowed from expressing the views of the electorate, they sit (maybe) in the back seats of the Dáil awaiting the instruction of the party leader, and under threat of the party whip, as to how they should vote on any issue. If they are appointed a minister, they are under constant threat of replacement.

Bullying in the workplace is illegal — so why is it allowed in the Dáil?

The system is undemocratic. TDs are representatives of the people, but that is not allowed by the ‘whip’ system. The ‘Whip’ system facilitates bullying, in direct contravention of the principles of the workplace, which prohibit:

* Purposely undermining someone

* Targeting someone for special negative treatment

* Manipulation of an individual’s reputation

* Social exclusion or isolation

* Intimidation

* Aggressive or obscene language

* Jokes that are obviously offensive to one individual, by spoken word or email

* Intrusion by pestering, spying and stalking

* Unreasonable assignments to duties which are obviously unfavourable to one individual

* Repeated requests with impossible deadlines or impossible tasks

* Constructive dismissal

These, together with promises and threats, are practiced in the ‘whip’ system against elected representatives and, by extension, against their electorate.

Confine the ‘whip’s’ action to encouraging TDs to cast their vote, but without use of threats or bullying. It would be better than weakening democracy by removing the mild filter that is the Senate.

John Whelan


Dublin 14

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