August 2006 Archives

Fewer TDs - Better Dail

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Given that electoral boundaries may need to be revised in the light of the preliminary Census results, we should go the whole hog and have a referendum to reduce the total number of TDs.

The Dail sits for less than a hundred days a year and TDs are paid around €100,000 plus expenses of about the same amount. On this basis, a TD directly costs about €2,000 per sitting day presuming 100% attendance. If actual attendance time in the chamber is about 20%, then the cost shoots up to €10,000 per attendance day. It would be far better for democracy if the Dail were to sit for, say, 160 days a year with fewer TDs and with revamped procedures so that all TDs could have meaningful legislative roles as mandated by the electorate. By way of comparison, UK MPs are paid about the same as TDs notwithstanding that MPs have much larger effective constituencies and their Parliament meets for many more days a year and for proportionately more hours than the Dail.

All candidates in the forthcoming general election should be asked by voters to undertake, if elected, to ensure that the new Dail sits for four full days a week and forty weeks a year. If this commitment cannot be given, they do not deserve to be elected as part-time legislators.

Letter to the Sunday Business Post published on 13th August 2006.

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