Bill to End “Ministers with no Mandate” Makes Second Stage in the Dail Next Week
The Aontú Bill that seeks to end the ability of Ministers who loose their Dáil seat to remain in office indefinitely will reach second stage next week in the Dáil. Speaking in advance An Teachta Tóibín stated;
“The Ministers and Ministers of State Bill 2020 comes on the back of the incredibly long negotiations required to form a Government at the start of this year. There were more than 140 days of negotiations before a Government was formed. This period of 140 days represented a democratic deficit and a democratic crisis”.
“We had a Taoiseach with no mandate, a Cabinet in which many of the Ministers were unelected, newly elected Deputies who were unable to scrutinise those Ministers, and a Dáil that was unable to legislate. There was a significant crisis within the political system at a time we needed to be able to function properly to deal with the crisis that was at hand”.
Ministers such as the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Senator Regina Doherty, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, were making decisions worth billions of euro with no mandate. There was also a cost to the Exchequer. It was estimated that these Ministers cost the Exchequer an extra €40,000 annually. Many saw an increase in their pensions because their terms as Ministers were extended. To say that there was significant anger among the general public over this at the time is an understatement”.
“It is in the gift of the Taoiseach of the day to replace Ministers who are in place without a mandate. It is in the gift of the Dáil of the day to select successors to those Ministers. I understand that it is very difficult to replace Ministers in the short period following a general election when a Government is being formed. This Bill allows the existing Ministers who had mandates in the previous Dáil to remain in place for six weeks to make the decisions necessary to keep the country afloat”.
“However, there must be a red line. There has to be a period after which it is recognised that the new Dáil has the democratic mandate and the requisite skills and experience to replace the sitting Ministers. This is a very simple Bill. It simply puts the onus on the Dáil to select new Ministers and appoint them six weeks after the election. It provides that any Minister without a mandate does not have a right to remain as a Minister any longer. In the case of Junior Ministers this Bill compels the Taoiseach to replace them also after 6 weeks. No Dáil vote is necessary for the confirmation of the new replacement junior Ministers. I believe, in practice, that this 6 week timescale will help focus the minds of political parties in future to seek to ensure that government formation negotiations do not meander on indefinitely in a time of crisis.
This is the Bill;
And this is the Explanatory Memorandum;