2 Jul 2020, 10.44
The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission 2019 Annual Report published today highlights a year of extensive parliamentary activity, public engagement and the completion of conservation works.
The 11-member Commission, which is responsible for running the Houses of the Oireachtas, reports an increase in engagement, with a focus on facilitating young people in having their voices heard in our national parliament.
Significant developments and achievements during 2019 included:
- Throughout 2019, the Houses and their Committees were particularly busy. The committees held 623 meetings, attended by nearly 2,000 witnesses and presented 61 committee reports. The Service supported the Dáil on each of its 106 sitting days and the Seanad on each of its 93 sitting days. Forty-eight Government Bills were passed in 2019.
- The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) and the Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers (OPLA) were placed on a statutory basis on 1st January 2019.
- The PBO has become an integral part of the financial scrutiny system in the Houses of the Oireachtas. The PBO produced 78 publications in 2019, gave nine briefings to the Budget Oversight Committee, and published its Pre-Budget 2020 Commentary that provided Members with a fiscal overview ahead of Budget Day.
- The Seanad held 588 Commencement debates and the Seanad Public Consultation Committee published its report ‘Travellers Towards a More Equitable Ireland Post-Recognition’.
- The Service also launched its Irish Sign Language (ISL) Strategy 2019-2021. Its purpose is to put Irish Sign Language supports in place in the Houses of the Oireachtas.
- Over 98,000 people visited Leinster House in 2019 on tours, school visits and on parliamentary business
Reflecting on 2019, Chairman of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission and Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD recalled: “The year began with a hugely successful ceremony at Dublin's Mansion House to mark exactly 100 years since the first Dáil Éireann convened. In April, as part of the same centenary celebrations, the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made an address in the Dáil chamber. These commemorative engagement activities were reflected regionally as part of the ‘Dáil 100’ Exhibition, which toured the country with the aim of opening the Oireachtas to the public.
“The completion of the Georgian Leinster House Restoration Project was an important milestone. Following the two-year restoration project, the Seanad moved back to the original Seanad Chamber in Georgian Leinster House, last September. This major undertaking will preserve its history for future generations, the upgrade of the building will ensure that Leinster House will meet the needs of our parliament and parliamentarians and continue to be accessible and welcoming to visitors for years to come.
“Furthermore, to mark the completion of the restoration project, Leinster House was opened to the public for a programme of special guided tours and cultural activities, allowing visitors to explore the historic House and learn about its restoration and conservation from those involved in the project.
“While conscious of our achievements as a Parliament over the previous 100 years, we also focused on the future and our young people, with the aim of ensuring young people have their voices heard in our national parliament.
“With that in mind, 157 young people took their seats in Dáil Éireann to convene the first Youth Assembly on Climate. The event was a unique opportunity for young delegates from across the country to present their views and proposals on climate action from the floor of the Dáil chamber to TDs, Senators and Ministers. We were also privileged to host Dáil na nÓg, the national parliament for young people, for their biennial debate in Leinster House as part of the Dáil 100 commemorative programme.”
Read the full annual report