JUST before the Dáil rose for the summer yesterday, it passed a Fianna Fáil bill to strengthen the rights of mental health patients, a group of citizens very often numbered among the most vulnerable in our society.
The bill provides for greater consultation with patients; it will now be sent to the Seanad.
That piece of business is one of the last our parliament will move on until the end of September, raising again that hardy annual — how effective, how relevant can our parliament be if it closes down for extended periods?
The dysfunction, the difficulty of tackling complex, divisive issues through this fractured Dáil also feeds into the scepticism pushing our national politics to the margins of many lives. That disconnect is probably deepened by opinion polls that show that an election would more than likely return a Dáil pretty much like to one that broke for the summer yesterday. This is not good for politics, this is not good for society and it certainly is not good for us as individuals. There may be a solution but it would require a level of commitment many shy away from — participate, join a political party.
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