Fergus Finlay has a very interesting piece in today’s Irish Examiner concerning the relevance of the Dail. He refers to RTEs political correspondent, David Davin Power, from last Sunday’s This Week programme (4th report). (The full report is worth a listen).
Our national parliament has become a nuisance to the real powers in the land. They – and I assume he means the Government and senior civil servants – have come to see the parliament as essentially an obstacle to the orderly running of government. That is why parliament is ignored most of the time and then treated with contempt at times like last week when important and controversial legislation was guillotined through the parliament before they were sent on their holidays.
Finaly goes on to make the following points.
I believe that’s tragic. Actually, it’s also hugely dangerous. The more respect for parliament is allowed to be corroded, the closer we all get to a slippery slope – and it’s the slippery slope, believe it or not, that leads to effective dictatorship.
And the truth is that until it does begin to take itself seriously, as the place where the interests of the people are truly represented, on a basis of conscience and as a place where other institutions are held to account on behalf of the people, then there is little enough reason for others to take parliament seriously.
Our parliament can be made to matter again. But only by its own members – and only if, once and for all, they start earning all our respect.
I strongly disagree with this last point, that only politicians can make our parliament matter again. Politicians long ago squandered any hope of regaining public respect.
The time has come, I believe, for the people to take back their own parliament from the incompetent, greedy and largely corrupt politicians.