Issue 19 - August 2011

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Changes in parliamentary procedures

Before rising for the summer, changes in parliamentary procedure in the Dail were proposed (Dail Eireann, Debates, 21st July 2011, 811-813). The principal elements were:

  • A system of topical debates issues, four a day, replacing the adjournment debate, but being held during the afternoon, not at the end of business;
  • Bringing forward starting time from 2.30pm to 2pm (Tuesdays);
  • Leaders’ questions to be taken by the Tanaiste on Thursdays;
  • Scope for private members’ legislation every first Friday of the month;
  • §32 notices of urgent importance raised at the opening of business to be taken, if supported by at least twelve members, on close of business;
  • A system whereby members who feel that parliamentary questions have not been properly addressed may make a complaint to the Ceann Comhairle, who shall communicate his or her conclusion to the minister concerned.

Editor’s comment: These changes are of some importance and provide fresh scope for voluntary and community organizations to influence parliamentary business, especially through private member’s legislation, §32 notices (which hitherto are almost always rejected) and a complaints system on inadequate parliamentary answers.  Note that they apply only to the Dail and not the Seanad.