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Reform of Oireachtas committees is overdue

The recurring theme at the protracted talks leading to government formation, was the necessity of Dáil reform and of doing politics in a new way.

To advance this concept, one of the more obvious areas requiring reform would be the rationalisation of the Oireachtas committees.

Undoubtedly, a number of committees, for example the Public Accounts Committee, provide an invaluable service and perform an essential role in the administration of government.

However, there is a perception that some committees are formed merely to placate disgruntled deputies who were not otherwise accommodated in the system.

An example of the latter would be the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions, whose stated mandate is that “through the petitions process, members of the public will be able to take their policy concerns directly to the heart of parliament and to influence the parliamentary agenda”.

I suppose the best way to measure its effectiveness is to examine its performance on petitions submitted over a period, as listed on its website. This is the breakdown: 17 being examined for compliance with standing orders; 68 non-admissible; 120 petitions closed; 27 referrals to department/stakeholders/ombudsman; four for consideration of the committee.

One would search in vain to find an entry indicating that a petition had been satisfactorily resolved .

Mick Callanan

Crookstown

Co Cork


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