Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Fixed Period for the Duration of Dáil Éireann) Bill 2015: First Stage

Tairgim:

Go gceadófar go dtabharfar isteach Bille dá ngairtear Acht chun an Bunreacht a leasú.

I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.

This is a very simple and straightforward Bill to amend the Constitution to provide for a fixed Dáil term and to remove the power of the Taoiseach to decide the date of the dissolution.

A Deputy

Or the Tánaiste.

Or the Tánaiste, as the case may be. I am putting this forward because it is a matter of great public concern. This process has been brought into disrepute in recent times, particularly by the present Taoiseach. The equivocation about the general election and the frenzy which has followed have persuaded many that the system we operate, whereby the Taoiseach of this country has the power to dissolve the Dáil and choose an election date, is unfair and gives an unfair advantage to the party in power.

Why would he not do it?

Quiet, please.

It also means-----

(Interruptions).

It was those Fine Gael Deputies who last week were calling for a general election.

(Interruptions).

They were the ones who were so disappointed with what the Taoiseach did last week. They are the ones who are cheering him so loudly today.

(Interruptions).

Would Deputies, please, mind staying quiet?

If the Taoiseach had been able to make up his mind on what day he would call the general election, they would not have been sitting there last week kicking up about it. The Labour Party contributed to this unseemly decision which was taken in the face of a media frenzy that the Taoiseach was conjuring up.

The Deputy generated it.

It encouraged it and-----

It was flushed out.

-----now today they are looking for a general election in February, not November. The Taoiseach has the power but equivocated. I am asking that we take it away from him.

Give it back to the people in a democratic revolution.

Your hero, Charlie-----

Will the Deputy, please-----

I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle.

I have to sit through this also. I ask Deputy Shane Ross to proceed with his contribution.

It is very hard, a Cheann Comhairle.

It is very difficult.

The Deputy is well able for it. As his neighbour next door is an expert at it, he should get some tips from him.

(Interruptions).

The problem is there is an abuse of executive power and it is embedded in the Constitution. Every Taoiseach has looked - as the Taoiseach did last week - at opinion polls-----

The Deputy looks at them. How much did he spend on them?

-----and decided on the date of the general election, depending, simply and solely, on his own popularity.

The Deputy would like to be Taoiseach without authority and responsibility.

Will the Deputy, please, stay quiet?

Last week the Taoiseach said he would make the decision in the national interest. One day he decided in the national interest that it would be held in November but the next he decided in the national interest that it would be held in February.

(Interruptions).

What he was really deciding was that holding it in November would be in the interests of Fine Gael, but then the Tánaiste came in and put a bit of pressure on him. He backed off to the absolute disgust of his own backbenchers and decided to hold it in February. This behaviour must stop and there is only one way of doing so. It would mean removing that power from the Taoiseach-----

And giving it to the Tánaiste.

-----by amending the Constitution and providing for a fixed term.

A Deputy

Grandstanding.

Will the Deputy, please, stay quiet?

Fixed terms - that would be a democratic revolution.

Is the Bill being opposed?

It is not, but I remind the Deputy that it is the President who dissolves the Dáil on the request of the Taoiseach and that he can refuse, if he so wishes.

I thank the Taoiseach.

It is a major achievement.

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.

Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Tairgim: "Go dtógfar an Bille in am Comhaltaí Príobháideacha."

I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.
Question put and agreed to.