Clare’s Independent TD insists that reform of the Dáil will be his single priority if selected Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil.
Michael McNamara has emailed (see below) his fellow TDs, expressing an interest in standing for the role which will be filled when the Dáil holds its first post-election gathering this Thursday.
The Scariff Barrister wants to hold the position for a limited period of six months to implement a number of reforms, including the system of parliamentary questions and the use of the ‘money message’ that has been used by government to block legislation, when there is a cost to the exchequer.
The person chosen as Ceann Comhairle will be automatically re-elected at the next General Election but Deputy McNamara has been telling Clare FM’s Fiona Cahill that, that didn’t factor into his decision at all.
Deputy McNamara’s email circulated to Dáil members
It seems to me that the two tasks required of us all are the election of a Taoiseach that can lead a stable Government and the election of a Ceann Comhairle to chair the Dáil in a manner that enables all TDs to hold that government to account. I wish to address you on the latter.
Having sat as a backbencher in the 31stDáil and observed the 32nd Dáil, it seems to me that several reforms, including the following, are needed to enable this Dáil and its members to function effectively, regardless of the composition of the Government.
1. Reform of Parliamentary Questions, the answers to which have become an exercise in obfuscation rather than in transparency and open government. If written questions which the Ceann Comhairle determines had not been answered could subsequently be asked as Oral Questions, the Government (and permanent government) would have a lesser incentive to obfuscate.
2. To facilitate debate in the Dáil Chamber, the Ceann Comhairle needs to be able determine the order of speakers from those members present and indicating that they wish to speak. The degree to which this function is currently delegated to Whips is scarcely compatible with democracy in an increasingly diverse and fractured Dáil.
3. The “money message” which, along with the “advice of the Attorney General” whose Constitutional remit is to provide legal advice to the Government rather than the Dáil, has become a method by which the Government seeks to stymie and usurp the legislative function of the Dáil. Their use needs to be re-examined and curtailed.
I would seek your nomination and support to become Ceann Comhairle on Thursday for a limited period to carry out these reforms. If elected, I would propose to convene a Dáil reform Committee of any and all interested members to report back within a period of three months and seek to implement proposed reforms within six months. I would not wish to remain as Ceann Comhairle thereafter for the remainder of the 33rdDáil.
If another candidate, or candidates, would agree to carry out this reform agenda, I would gladly support their candidature instead.