The Government is continuing to prove that it means business when it comes to real political reform, following the announcement of further measures by the Minister for the Environment, according to Fine Gael TD for Dublin North Alan Farrell.
“Minister Phil Hogan has today (Wednesday) announced a further series of tangible reforms, as promised under the Programme for Government, which will totally overhaul how our political system works.
“These measures are radical and wide-reaching. Firstly, the Government will change the terms of the Constituency Commission, which will ultimately result in a reduction in the number of TDs. A Constituency Commission is due to be established once the recent Census results are published in June. That Commission will report within three months of the publication of final census results in 2012.
“Secondly, the days of the Government playing political football by deliberately delaying bye-elections will become a thing of the past. We witnessed the ridiculous situation last year when the previous Fianna Fail Government put off the holding of the Donegal South West bye-election by almost a year and a half. Every citizen in this country deserves to be fairly represented. Today, the Government is committing to introducing legislation which will guarantee all bye-elections are held within six months of a vacancy arising.
“And thirdly, the Government plans to reduce the spending limits for the presidential election by more than €500,000. It will be cut from €1.3 million to €750,000 and the amount candidates can be reimbursed for expenses is being slashed by €60,000 to €200,000.
“As Minister Hogan stated earlier, these measures are further evidence that this Government is determined to lead from the top, by delivering real change for the benefit of all citizens. The reforms will result in a leaner, more efficient political system.
“Today’s announcement follows on from a number of other reforms already introduced by the Government. As soon as it took office, the Government reduced the pay of the Taoiseach and Ministers, and removed the automatic entitlement to State cars and drivers. Work is already underway on a referendum to propose the abolition of the Seanad. The Government is clearly starting as it means to go on.”