Tuesday 15 January 2019

FF manifesto promise for total Dail overhaul

CHANGE: Ruling party plans for unelected ministers

FIANNA FAIL launched its election manifesto today with a promise to completely overhaul the Dail.

After 13 years in Government, Micheal Martin proposed to make radical changes to the electoral system and the workload of politicians.

One of the cornerstones of the manifesto is that ministers will be pulled off constituency work so that they can concentrate exclusively on their cabinet portfolio.

The Herald can reveal that Fianna Fail also plans:

  • Ministers who will not be members of the Oireachtas

  • The abolition of the PR-STV system in favour of single-seat constituencies and a list system

  • To make the Dail sit five days a week

  • To allow ex-pats vote in presidential elections

  • Measure to increase gender balance

Mr Martin also outlined how he wants a review of the membership of all state boards

If the plan was to be enacted it would be the most radical reform to ever take place in Irish politics.

The party promises to refocus the work of Government on national issues rather than potholes.

"When members of the Oireachtas are appointed to Cabinet they would be replaced by an alternative while serving as minister. The alternate would be on a list published at the time of the election, in a similar way to European Parliamentary election," says the manifesto.

The potentially controversial move would mean that the minister would no longer be a constituency TD, although they would still be answerable to the Dail.

Mr Martin also revealed that he wants a system whereby a Taoiseach can appoint experts from outside the political sphere to ministries.

Dail sitting hours will be massively increased from its three-day week to those of a normal working week.

And voters will also be asked what kind of electoral system they want with Fianna Fail promising a referendum on the PR-STV system.

The party proposes to introduce a new way of voting that would see a mix of single-seat constituencies elected through single transferable vote along with a national party list. The list system would be used to encourage gender balance in politics.

Under this plan polling in General Elections would be extended to two days in order to increase voter turnout.

Irish emigrants will be unable to vote on February 25 but Mr Martin also promised that he would change this in time for the presidential election due later this year.

A source told the Herald that the completed plan will also include "a review of the membership of all state boards". "In particular we acknowledge that many are too large and do not include a sufficient diversity of skills."


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