Events of Yesterday

14th October, 2009

The speech by Deputy O’Donoghue has received a huge amount of coverage in all of the papers today. Two things are clear to me with the passage of a few hours since I saw him speak yesterday.


Firstly, yesterday was a belatedly good day for Leinster House. For too long moral responsibility was separate to legal responsibility. Politicians have to dance to a different tune. We’re expected to lead and the way we behave sends signals about how we expect others to act. Yesterday sent out a signal, albeit muffled and late, that this penny is dropping.


Secondly, we must now look to the future. A new Ceann Comhairle is in place. If other stories about others emerge then that’s fine and they’ll need to be dealt with. But (and this is crucial) outrage and annoyance about individual issues cannot divert attention away the need for reform of the system. As opposed to been paralysed by the scale of everything unfolding politicians should focus all of their energy of fixing the system.


Here is a statement from me on what happened yesterday:-


New expenses regime must be in place by Christmas – Donohoe


The new Ceann Comhairle must lead the Oireachtas Commission to have a fully vouched expenses system in place by December. To not do so risks losing any momentum on the issue caused by the resignation of John O’Donoghue, according to Fine Gael Senator Paschal Donohoe.


Senator Donohoe was the first member of the Oireachtas to call for the resignation of the current Ceann Comhairle over the use of tax payer’s money.


“While his successor is unlikely to be so wasteful with the public’s money, there is no guarantee that he or she will not preside over exactly the same regime as has gone before.


“The new Programme for Government commits the coalition parties to the introduction of a vouched expenses system. I would dearly love if, as his or her first commitment, the new Ceann Comhairle would announce the convening of the Oireachtas Commission to put in place such a system by Christmas.”


“These Houses are now a lightning rod for public anger and scorn. The new appointee has the job of nothing less than saving the Dail and Seanad from a generation of cynicism by an Irish electorate who have lost their jobs, lost their homes and lost their patience with politicians who are now sadly perceived to be greedy”.


“I am new to politics. I believe it can work, but not in its current form. We need top-to-bottom reform, starting at the top. We cannot go on any more with a system that gives deputies and senators cash for expenses they cannot prove they incurred.