Header Item Standing Orders: Motion (Continued)
 Header Item Technological Universities Bill 2015: Report Stage (Resumed)

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 904 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton] Once the legislation is drafted and published, one cannot make any major changes. It is a massive change, but nobody is talking about it. It is the biggest change I have seen in my 19 years in the House but because it does not involve fireworks in the Chamber, grandstanding, sitting-in and that type of nonsense it does not get headlines. Massive amounts of time, work, effort and energy go into this and that is making a major change, but nobody is writing about it in the newspapers or talking about it on television or in the media. We have spent hours, days and weeks at committee meetings listening to ordinary citizens, representatives of non-governmental organisations, NGOs, and academics who have come to the meetings to have their say. It is the biggest change I have ever seen.

The election of the Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot is important. I note the Deputy who was so critical during his two minutes and could not say anything constructive has now left the Chamber. He could not even bother to hear the contribution of anybody else. It is appalling. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan spoke about respect for the Ceann Comhairle. That is crucial. There should be no occasion when a Member questions the Ceann Comhairle in the Chamber. If one has an issue one should meet the Ceann Comhairle outside, not have a row in the Chamber. That is unseemly and should not be done. The next time the Ceann Comhairle is elected I hope everybody will respect that and speak through the Chair, not at each other across the Chamber.

Members should also stop using scripts and reading speeches which somebody else has written for them. Get rid of the scripts. They should be outlawed. Members should come to the Chamber and make the contributions their own by speaking to headlines and notes.

Regarding the d'Hondt system, chairing a committee is a huge responsibility. This has been the Dáil of committees; the committees of the Oireachtas have come into their own. Unfortunately, the referendum to allow committees to have a proper investigative role was not passed by the people. That hampers the work of committees, and I believe people are understanding that now. Another big change is the Taoiseach appearing before the working group of chairpersons. We must continue making changes. The new Members after the election must continue pushing the limits, exploring and looking for ways to do things.

Attendance in the Chamber and in committees is a big problem. Members do not attend committee meetings because many of them are tied up doing constituency work. The time somebody spends in a committee room should be logged and noted, from the time they arrive to the time they leave, by the minute. Somebody who arrives to a meeting, makes one contribution and leaves gets the same credit as somebody who spends hours debating at the meeting. People should be members of only one committee, and there should be only 15 members of each committee. It should be a privilege to be a member of a committee, not a right. Perhaps not everybody should be a member of a committee. That would avoid situations where people are expected to attend two meetings at the same time. It would also give members a chance to give more detailed attention to the business of a committee. There should also be convenors at committees. Many committees have had problems getting a quorum. As there is no coverage of committee work, for the most part, members do not feel compelled to turn up. That is not good enough.

We should be doing a great deal more in the House. Second Stage speeches are a disaster. One Member comes into the House and reads a speech, quite often to himself or herself. Often Members of the Opposition do not even bother to show up. When we were in opposition we had a rule there there always had to be at least one person on the benches. I agree with Deputy Troy that even today the attendance is dire. Why is that the case?

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Dáil could not start on time twice this week because there was no quorum.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton We must explore-----

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Was the Deputy here this morning?

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy I was here for Questions.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Seán Kenny): Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny Can we have some order for the speaker?

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton This is more of it. If the Deputy wants me to give way I will do so, but we must examine ways of getting more attendance in the Chamber. Why do Members not come to the House? I believe it requires shorter speeches and more positive interaction between Members.

  Question put and declared carried.

Technological Universities Bill 2015: Report Stage (Resumed)

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien I move amendment No. 18:

In page 15, to delete lines 11 and 12 and substitute the following:

13. (1) A college (in this Chapter referred to as “applicant colleges”) may jointly apply to the Minister for an order under section 18.”.

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