First Day At School

at

leinsterhouse

dan

From top: Leinster House this morning Dan Boyle

The opening of a new Dáil today contains the possibility of real change.

Dan Boyle writes:

Unlike the Mother of Parliaments, from which we have inherited many unnecessary and often silly procedures, the opening of our parliament lacks the pompous pageantry in which Westminster seems to revel.

The opening of a new Dáil is more like an All Ireland final day. Crowds of supporters there to support their team. Knowing glances and nods being cast in the direction of those famous players from previous championship finals. Those most known for their fouling seeming to be granted a perverse level of respect.

On my first day my Mother found herself in the visitors’ gallery sat next to Gerry Adams. Then he was still member of parliament and assembly member for West Belfast.

He began the dialogue. “You have someone here belonging to you Ma’am?,” he burred as if he were an Irish Clint Eastwood. She replied with appropriate maternal pride that it was I, Dan Boyle of the Green Party. The conversation, having been polite, friendly even, didn’t continue beyond that exchange.Retrospectively I would have liked The Ma to have reached the question “What was it like in the IRA, Gerry?,” .

The business of the first day of The Dáil is a number of set pieces interspersed with long periods of nothing happening. The election of the Ceann Comhairle, followed by the election of Taoiseach, is followed by the Taoiseach presenting his (it has always been his) government to the house.

There has rarely been any uncertainty in relation to any of this. The changes that could have been made have been studiously avoided. The opening of this new Dáil contains that doubt, a doubt that probably hasn’t existed since 1948. This uncertainty may mean that real change can at last happen.

Let’s hope so. It would be nice to see all TDs being truly equal. A Ceann Comhairle who insists that members of the Executive give answers to questions asked not mere responses.

A parliament where legislation drafted is informed by the contributions of each member who speaks in debates, and who when offering amendment to the legislation will only be impeded by the quality of the argument they make.

Committees would see research and pertinent questioning being rewarded, with grandstanding being derided as the loudest sound from the emptiest vessel exercise it is. We may even see senior civil servants emerge from the shadows to have accountability applied to them for their role in the decision making process.

Public appointments would be made through reformed committees, where applied experience rather than implied patronage would see the right, or at least more properly accountable, people being appointed.

In 2002, on our first day, Eamon Ryan and I shared the last four minutes of speaking time. My garbled two minutes were an attempt at revisiting The Gettysburg Address. I made the reference to government of the people, by the people, for the people.

We may be closer to that goal than we ever have been in our history. Then again we may not.

Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle

Top pic via Samantha Libreri

13 thoughts on “First Day At School

    1. Dan Boyle

      Mine as it happens. Usually is. Although I admit defeat over ‘Incineration Once Again’ that was sub-editing brilliance.

  1. fluffybiscuits

    Retrospectively I would have liked The Ma to have reached the question “What was it like in the IRA, Gerry?,” .

    Imagine no other establishment politician has ever done that before

    Its good the Green Party got in, they add a lacking voice on environmental issues

    Public appointments would be made through reformed committees, where applied experience rather than implied patronage would see the right, or at least more properly accountable, people being appointed.

    Did’nt Deirdre De Burca (Green party) resign because she couldnt get a job somewhere in Europe with FF influence (Im open to correction), is this not a public appointment?

  2. bisted

    ‘…Public appointments would be made through reformed committees, where applied experience rather than implied patronage…’
    I’m guessing that Eamo hasn’t included your name on the list for preferment as his price for another stint propping up a FG or FF government.

  3. Clampers Outside!

    “We may even see senior civil servants emerge from the shadows to have accountability applied to them for their role in the decision making process.”

    Without this all other reforms around accountability will hit an impasse.

    There should be a traceable chain of accountability between senior civil servants of departments and the Minister of that department. Without this any talk of “accountability” is a waste of time.
    As it is currently, the system is purposefully set up so that a Minister can deny responsibility and send anyone looking for heads to roll back to the senior civil servants, and vice versa, the senior civil servants can say ‘talk to the Minister’. And no one can assign responsibility anywhere as a result. Phil Hogan and IW being a perfect example, there are many others.

    That built in shirking of responsibility must end. It has to stop. NOW!

  4. Charger Salmons

    You should supply Broadsheet with a better picture of you,old cock.
    The Brendan Behan just before he kicked the bucket after too many Jamesons look is so last year.

      1. Dan Boyle

        I drink neither. That’s a tan I’m wearing although it doesn’t go to well with the stye

  5. Same old same old

    It’s gas the way less and less people comment every week on this clueless waffle

      1. Kieran NYC

        I think people are a bit burnt out on the politics after the GE.

        Even the TDs don’t seem to be in too much of a rush to get back to it.

        Wonder how long we’ll be left without a government

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