Cllr Emer Tóibín: Democratic Deficit Desperately Needs to be Addressed
More than 90 days after the General Election, and with an acting government – without a mandate – making decisions which will have long-lasting ramifications for the economy and future of the Irish people, the undermining of the people’s vote and the increasing democratic deficit is worrying and in need of address. Aontú Cllr Emer Tóibín is calling for an implementation of reforms whereby ministers and ministers for state who lose their seats, must resign within 30 days of losing their seats, and that a time limit on the life of an acting government be imposed.
Despite the people’s vote for change, control over the decision-making responses of several key sectors are being dictated by representatives rejected by the people. The following ministers lost their seats in the 2020 General Election, but still continue to pull in a ministerial salary: Minister for Employment & Social Protection Regina Doherty, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Shane Ross, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister of State for the OPW, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Minister of State at the Department of Finance Michael D’Arcy, Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne, and Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen. Minister of State for Disability Issues, Finian McGrath announced he would not be seeking re-election, but has continued own in his role as a Minister for State subsequent to the election.
For so many portfolios to continue to be run by those rejected by the people represents a worrying development for our democracy. Only last week Katherine Zappone spoke in the Dáil as if she had been re-elected…
The decision to suspend ECCE payments and financially cripple childcare providers was taken by an unelected Minister for Children. The administration of payments and schemes by Social Protection is being overseen by a deselected Minister. The list goes on. What is glaringly obvious is that there is no transparency as to the powers of these “acting” Ministers, the monies they are receiving, and for how long the current status quo can continue. This is compounded by a reduced Dáil and the preclusion of opposition oversight.
The Irish people have the right to their voice being heard, their vote enacted, their government having a mandate from the people, and for the opposition being able to scrutinise the government and hold them to account.