An Aontú Bill that will ensue the replacement of unelected Ministers and Junior Ministers with elected TDs in the case of a delay in the formation of a government has past first stage of the Dáil.
Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín TD said the bill sought to prevent a repetition of the situation after Election 2020 where Ministers who had lost their seats remained in office on a Minister’s salary for months after they had lost their seat in the election.
“For 140 days after the General Election we had a Taoiseach with no Mandate, a Cabinet with unelected Ministers, a legislature that could not legislate and a newly elected Dáil with very little ability to scrutinise or hold to account. That this democratic deficit would be allowed to continue for so long in the teeth of a such a crisis was absolutely wrong. In no other sector of Irish society would such a dysfunctional decision-making process be allowed,” he said.
“For 140 days the result of the democratic election was denied to the Irish people while the government without a mandate made enormous decisions with long-lasting ramifications for the economy and future of the Irish people. This is no small issue and it needs to be fixed to prevent it happening again,” he continued.
The Meath West TD said: “The Aontú Bill, which passed first stage today if implemented, would in future, bring to an end unelected Ministers such as Regina Doherty, Shane Ross, Katherine Zappone and Ministers of State such as Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Michael D’Arcy, Catherine Byrne, Pat Breen and Finian McGrath remaining in office indefinitely on a Ministerial salary. This would give some effect to the democratic process, improve accountability of Ministers and would save the state money. It is estimated that the practice of maintaining unelected Ministers costed the state €40,000 a week. There was also a potential exposure to the exchequer in terms of increased pensions in the future as the terms of Ministers and the Taoiseach are undemocratically prolonged”.
“The Aontú Bill seeks to ensure the prompt appointment of successors to Ministers and Ministers of State who have as a result of a general election ceased to be members of the Oireachtas. If this Bill passes all stages, in future, 6 weeks after a general election has elapsed, the Taoiseach must with the approval of the Dáil, nominate for appointment by the President the successors in office of those Ministers who have ceased to be members of a House of the Oireachtas. In the cases of Ministers of State the same timescale remains in place put the approval for the selection of new Ministers of State remains in hands of the Government,” he said.