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From top: Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2; Anne Marie McNally

Though often chaotic and unseemly, we are finally getting a a parliament where issues are king.

Anne Marie McNally writes:

The first term of the 32nd Dáil has come to an end, marking a pivotal moment in the history of politics in Ireland.

It has been a term where we surpassed the previously held record for the length of time it took to form a Government.

It gave us a Minority Government and a convoluted partnership agreement that’s not a coalition – not in name anyway.

It also gave us the lofty claims of ‘new politics’, the oft-repeated phrase which has become the slogan of the 32nd Dáil.

It’s trotted out by politicians across the spectrum and political correspondents are equally effusive in both welcoming it and deriding it depending on which way the wind is blowing on a particular day.

For all the derision that can be levied at the 32nd Dáil (and Irish politics in general) I think it’s fair to say that ‘new politics’ has critically shifted the way business is done in this bubble of ours in Leinster House.

Gone are the days of Bills floating through the House on a sea of arrogant majority Government backbenchers.

Gone are the looming guillotines ensuring legislation is passed at times convenient to Government despite the protestations of the opposition.

Gone too are the refusals of Government to provide adequate time for opposition business or smaller parties and Independents.

Instead we have, though often chaotic and unseemly, a parliament where issues are king. Suddenly the substance of a particular piece of legislation is the most important thing and not the shade of the party proposing it.

We’ve had opposition support Government initiatives and we’ve had Government support opposition business. There is more time and scope for consensus and agreement. Opposition for opposition sake is increasingly – both inside the bubble and out –being derided as ineffective and damaging.

Fianna Fáil have tabled two pieces of legislation – one on Au Pairs and one on the sale of Local Authority Homes built under the Part V rules. Both Bills were defeated, not because they were Fianna Fáil Bills but because it was generally agreed that both were flawed pieces of legislation. The majority of opposition voted with Government in defeating those Bills.

Minister Simon Coveney’s housing plan has come about as a result of a consultation process he held with all other parties and Independents. We know from the substance of that plan that he listened and took on board some of the submissions made to him.

Similarly, Róisín Shortall has presided over the establishment of the All-Party Committee on Health which the Social Democrats put forward with a stated aim of ‘delivering a universally accessible publicly funded health service.’

This stated aim was almost universally accepted and supported (everyone except AAA/PBP signed up to and supported the motion) and the Committee was created.

Róisín, despite being from a smaller party was appointed as Chair of that Committee with the support of colleagues from every party as it was acknowledged that this had been a Social Democrats initiative and Roisin’s expertise and commitment was best placed to drive it.

Whichever way you look at things, that is an entirely new way of doing business.

The theatre of the shouting and balling across at each other still exists, particularly during the camera opportunities of Leaders Questions etc. but by and large those instances are much reduced.

There is a greater emphasis on getting to the heart of the issue and explaining why you support the legislation/motion or not. There is a sense that the other side is listening to you and prepared to work with you to make things happen. It is healthy.

It’s not all great and the time-tabling is still as crazy as ever with sittings until 10:30/11pm at night while nothing happens on a Friday for example but it is an improvement and when you’re in this dysfunctional bubble that is the Irish political system, you’ll take those improvements wherever they come!

Anne Marie McNally is a founding member of the Social Democrats. Follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally

casement

 Fearghus O’Conchuir’s The Casement Project

Banna this filth!

“My children wanted to see the fireworks display in the evening as such we returned later that evening to enjoy what was touted to be ‘the midnight reimagining of [Roger] Casement’s Ill-fated landin...and what a landing we got!

This dance routine by Fearghus O’Conchúir began quite innocently with six dancers on stage. However after about 15 minutes one male dancer took off his pink and black lycra leggings and top to reveal his completely tattooed body – which we could clearly see from his ‘underwear’ which had the word “addicted\ written on the back and had two large holes cut out to reveal his bare buttocks. Is this what they see as “family friendly”?

It was highly sexualised and in the majority aimed at a homosexual audience with long extract being read aloud from what appeared to be an autopsy of Casement’s body.

The intention was to highlight Casement’s homosexuality and references to ’anus, riding, deep to the hilt, etc as well as men dancing and groping with each other on stage.

This was totally inappropriate for an audience with young children. It was not family friendly and you could sense the unease of people watching. The final straw came when he mentioned the word “erection” …..We left in DISGUST.”

Listener to Radio Kerry concerning the Casement Project dance finale – “Butterflies and Bones” directed by Fearghus O Conchuir, – at last Saturday’s Féile Fáilte Festival in Banna Strand, Tralee, Co Kerry.

Meanwhile…

“There were many different kinds of families represented at the event across the day; while we appreciate that the content of Butterflies and Bones challenged a small number of the audience who were present for the later part of the night, the majority of the feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Féile Fáilte organisers.

Radio Kerry (Facebook)

Thanks Jerry O’Sullivan

 

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This afternoon.

Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2

The launch of the Dublin Theatre festival 2016 [September 29-October 16] programme

From top: Dublin Theatre festival director Willie White, Cathy Belton, cast member of the Druid’s production of Helen and I by Meadhbh McHugh at the Civic Theatre,in Tallaght; and PJ Gallagher, a member of the cast of Una McKevitt’s Alien Documentary running at Project Arts Centre..

Full programme details here

Rollingnews