June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
I have been on the radio twice over the past few days:
I was part of the panel for Sam Smyth on Sunday on Today FM over the weekend along with Senator John Crown and Brendan Keenan of the Irish Independent. The show is available to listen again in Part 1 and Part 2.
This morning, I was on Newstalk Breakfast’s political slot. Sitting alongside me were John Drennan of the Sunday Independent and Independent TD Stephen Donnelly. To listen to the show again, click here and go to Part 4 from Wednesday.
June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
Saturday June 25th saw the official opening of the new constituency office of Alex White TD, located at 4 Main Street, Rathfarnham. Chairman of the Institute of International and European Affairs and former Labour Party TD, Senator and MEP, Brendan Halligan was on hand to cut the ribbon at the office which will also be the headquarters of the Justin Keating Branch of the party.
The opening was very well attended with friends and colleagues from the locality, along with the wife of the late Justin Keating, Barbara Hussey.
“I am delighted to strengthen our presence in the constituency”, Alex told those present. “The general election earlier this year saw the first Labour TD elected for Dublin South since Eithne Fitzgerald represented the area in the mid-1990s. The new office will be an open house, available for constituents to call in and say hello and have a chat.”
Alex’s new office at 4 Main Street, Rathfarnham is open Monday , 1pm – 5pm and Friday, 10am – 2pm. He is also available by appointment. You can contact the office on (01) 4055898.
More pictures of the office opening are available on Alex’s Facebook page.
June 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
From Oireachtas News:
Alex White TD for Dublin South was today elected as Chairman to the key Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.
Wexford TD, Liam Twomey was elected as Committee Vice-Chair.
The Committee will shadow the activities of the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Refom.
Speaking after his election, Deputy White said;
“I am grateful to my Oireachtas colleagues for electing me to chair this pivotal new Oireachtas Committee. I intend to adopt a professional and business-like approach to the way this Committee does its work, so that we can achieve tangible results and make a real contribution.
Clearly, reform and public expenditure will be among the highest priorities for this Oireachtas. I believe this Committee can have an important function in scrutinising the work of this new Department as well as devising concrete progressive proposals.”
Committee Vice-Chair, Liam Twomey TD said;
“I too look forward to job of work ahead of this Committee. We will be addressing some of the most pressing areas of policy and I believe the Committee’s input can make a meaningful contribution.”
The Committee will hold a meeting shortly to identify its work programme and priorities.
June 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
As you may know, Dublin Bus is currently undertaking a review of their services across the city under the banner of ‘Network Direct’.
This week, Dublin Bus announced proposals that will affect services in the local area, including changes to the 15, 15a, 15b, 15e, 15f, 16, 16a, 74, 74a, 161.
The aim, management say, is to have quicker, more punctual services. Locals will have an opportunity to have their say at a drop-in briefing session at St Joseph’s Parish Hall, Terenure on Wednesday 22 June between 3pm and 8pm.
Amongst the proposals:
• Route 16 will be a high frequency service operating at least every 10 minutes during peak times from Ballinteer (Kingston) to Dublin Airport.
• Route 16a will be replaced on the Southside by route 61 and on the Northside by Route 3 and Route 16. Route 16 will now serve Dublin Airport.
• Route 3a will now provide a service from Shanard Road to the City Centre via Dorset Street, terminating on Parnell Square. This will replace route 16 on the Northside.
• Route 15, 74 and 128 will be amalgamated and renamed route 15. This high frequency service, operating every 10 minutes at peak times, will provide increased cross city penetration providing direct connections to Connolly Rail Station, Fairview and the Malahide Road. Route 15 will be extended to Stocking Avenue via St. Colmcille’s Way and Ballycullen Road.
• Route 15a will operate its current alignment to the city centre. Timetables will be adjusted to meet customer demand and provide improved integration on the common alignment between current services 15, 15a and 15b.
• Route 15b and 74a will be amalgamated and called route 15b. This service will operate from Stocking Avenue to the city centre via Stocking Lane, Scholarstown Road, Ballyboden Way, Ballyroan Road, Marian Road and Templeogue Road.
• Route 15e and 15f will no longer operate.
• Route 61 will operate from Whitechurch to the city centre via Grange Road, Nutgrove Avenue, Churchtown Road Lower, Rathmines and St. Stephen’s Green.
• Route 140, operating a high frequency service with a departure every 10 minutes at peak times, will be extended from its current terminus Leeson Street (Wilton Terrace) to Rathmines (Palmerston Park). This will replace route 128 in this area and on Rathmines Road Upper.
• Route 161 will continue to provide a connection from Rockbrook now serving Ballyboden Road, Grange Road, Nutgrove Avenue, Churctown Road Lower and Dundrum (Luas).
• Route 3 will continue to provide a direct connection from Larkhill to the City Centre (Parnell Square) operating via Dorset Street.
• Route 3a will continue to provide a service from Shanard Road to the City Centre via Dorset Street, terminating on Parnell Square. This will replace route 16a on the Northside.
For more information on the changes, click here.
June 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday, the chamber discussed a motion put down by the Technical Group on reform of the Oireachtas. Amongst the proposals put forward by the group included the abolition of the whip system and allowing committee input prior to drafting legislation. The full motion can be viewed here. I spoke in support of the government amendment which cited reform proposals in the Programme for Government. The amendment can be viewed here.
There is no reason why there should not be debate here about the need to change the way the House operates and the practices which may be in existence for decades. As Deputy Eoghan Murphy argued, we should address the elements that should be changed, and I have no problem with the debate or the Technical Group raising those issues.
The point regarding the Whip system has been ventilated and I will not repeat it other than to pose a question. How could it be abolished and who would do so? How can the Dáil determine that people cannot come together in a voluntary way through a political party, make decisions together by compromise and come to the House to vote in a particular way? It is not open to the Dáil to abolish the party political system or the Whips in the sense proposed in the motion. As a result the argument against the Whip system is really unconvincing, demonstrating a frustration which Independents in the Dáil and Seanad have with the system. That is natural and although there is a luxury in being an Independent, those Members must also face the obstacles relating to the processing of business and the ability, essentially, to get work done in this Parliament. As Deputy Stagg and others have argued, practices have evolved through political parties because they are at the heart of our current system. Apart from that it is good to have this debate.
Everybody is in favour of reform and apart from the Whip issue, we are probably all in agreement. There is very little difference between the original motion and the amendments. Calling for reform is one thing, but implementing it or setting it out on paper is another. Prior to the election, the Labour Party carefully and at some length examined this issue. My colleague, the Minister, Deputy Brendan Howlin, set out in a document 140 proposals for genuinely radical change that would appeal to Members on all sides of the House. It took us a considerable period to analyse the problem and set out proposals which could be implemented.
Deputy Murphy is right to express frustration at how the House operates but change requires the unpicking of entrenched practices and the way business has been done for many years. Every time we look at a practice we can find a reason for its existence. Although we may want to get rid of it, we can see the rationale behind it so we have to unpick the practice in order to change it. We should do that, and every Member should be involved in the process. The necessity for reform should not be the subject of contentious debate, although some of the individual aspects may cause people to differ. Deputy Stagg is right when he states that the process is ongoing and the impression should not be given that the matter is purely within the remit of the Government. Opposition parties should be involved, and I hope they will be.
I was struck by some of the debate, particularly when Deputy Catherine Murphy spoke more broadly about civic morality. It was a good issue to bring to the heart of the debate. There is a great expectation amongst the people for this Dáil. This does not just relate to the economy and the principal issues that must be addressed, but how we do our business. People expect change and want to see it happening. That is a reason for us to proceed with the constitutional convention, although there is little detail yet as to how it will operate. That would be a genuine opportunity for us to examine the kind of republic we have and the sort of change we want to see in the republic.
I will comment on the committee system. There is general agreement that the committees should be vested with real powers. The committees should be given a genuinely enhanced status. It should not just be a question of rhetoric that the Government will take committees seriously – as I am sure it will – and provide additional resources; we must see that happen. As parliamentarians we should stand up for the Parliament and our independent role, separate from the Government, even if we support that Government. We have a crucial role to play on behalf of the people who sent us here. We are right to demand that the Government should take the committees seriously, attend them and resource them. They should have an enhanced status.
We also have a responsibility in regard to how we conduct our business in committees. They ought not to be opportunities for grandstanding and set pieces, and we need to learn discipline with regard, for example, to scrutinising witnesses and asking questions. Many people have forgotten how to ask questions. A question is not a statement. I say with all due respect to my colleagues that we should take the committee system seriously. Let us be seen to make it work rather than simply expect the Government to do all the work.