20 Ean 2011, 15.54

How can the Dáil respond more quickly and more effectively to current events and emerging crises? Can Dáil Committees be made more effective? What can political parties do to encourage more women into Dáil Éireann? Should the budgetary process be based on confidentiality or should there be prior public consultation on draft budgets? Is there a case for introducing non-parliamentarians into Government? What can we learn from best practice elsewhere in the EU? Why is Ireland so far behind the developed world and Continental Europe in the number of women parliamentarians and how can we follow international example in putting this right?

These are a number of key questions being addressed at a seminar tomorrow, January 21 in Leinster House from 10.45am-5pm, hosted by the Irish Parliamentary (Former Members) Society.

Former members speaking at the seminar will include: Dr Garret FitzGerald; Pat Cox; Ray MacSharry; Nora Owen, Barry Desmond; and Jim Glennon.

Among the current parliamentarians who will address the seminar are: Dick Roche, TD and Minister for State for European Affairs; Ruairi Quinn, TD; Margaret Conlon, TD; Senator Ivana Bacik; and Mairead McGuinness, MEP.

Other issues which will be debated at today’s seminar are:

• What recommendations for Dáil reform have yet to be implemented?
• Why is the number of women in the Dail so low?
• How can the need for multi-lateral surveillance be incorporated into national budgetary procedures?
• Should there be greater separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature?

Former Minister and one of the organisers of the seminar, Gemma Hussey, said: “Essentially we are asking what should the Dáil of tomorrow look like? Can it be more effective? Should the Dáil be reformed and, if so, what reforms are necessary? What can we learn from best practice elsewhere? How can the Dail be made more reflective of the population, which is 50 per cent female? Are quotas the way forward? Past and present members who have served in five different Dáil terms over the past three decades will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to addressing these questions among others. Former members can offer a unique perspective on our political system. Removed from the adversarial and confrontational nature of day-to-day politics and the need to concentrate on the next election, they can objectively assess the pluses and minuses of the Dáil as it is currently stands.

This is the second political conference the society will host following our inaugural conference last year on electoral reform and it promises to be a lively, thought-provoking and entertaining debate. The society has chosen to host this seminar on January 21, the 92nd anniversary of the First Meeting of Dáil Éireann, and it is our intention to hold a political seminar on January 21 every year to celebrate this historic date in our country’s history.”

This event will be broadcast live tomorrow, Wednesday 21 January, on www.oireachtas.ie

To view the seminar and the programme of events, click on to http://www.oireachtas.ie/parliament/visitsevents/ips/

You can also follow the seminar on Twitter at oireachtasnews.

For further information, contact:

Ciaran Brennan,
Houses of the Oireachtas,
Communications Unit,
Leinster House,
Dublin 2

P: +3531 618 3903
M: 086-0496518
F: +3531 618 4551
E: ciaran.brennan@oireachtas.ie