The Dail has unanimously passed a motion of censure in Michael Lowry TD, calling on him to resign. What a wonderfully Irish thing to do. The elected parliament of the land, the people who actually run the country, are asking the man whose actions they disapprove of to come up with a solution. It astounds me as to how Irish politicians (and their voters, it has to be said) accept shoulder-shrugging as an official act of the state, how powerlessness is built into the Irish psyche. In other countries, a prime minister or president would be mocked if he/she just gave up and said they could not do anything about it. In Ireland, has 800 years of being someone else’s bitch built a masochistic streak into us? Are we, as a people, at our happiest dressed up in leather and getting our arses whipped by someone else, whether it’s Naughty Angela from Berlin or a strapping big man of the soil from North Tipperary?
You have to ask at times what is the point having the Dail? We could directly elect the government of 15 ministers, and elect 15 runners up as an opposition, and we’d be no worse of then we are today. Aside from the Dirt Inquiry, you’d be hard pressed to think of anything tangible the Dail as a legislature has done in the last 20 years. The government of the day actually writes the laws, and Dail reports are written for the sake of being written. Would we miss it? Or put it another way: Is there any other comparable western country that would look to us and say “Let’s copy their parliament”? In some parts of Africa maybe, on the basis that moving to a nominal parliamentary assembly is admittedly a step-up from eating the tribe who live next door, but by western standards, the answer has to be no. In fact, one could even make the argument that we’d be better served in outsourcing our parliamentary duties to another country. Close the Dail, take half the budget and ask the Finns or the Danes to devote a few days a month to scrutinising the Irish government and holding it to account. Would they really do a worse job?
If Fianna Fail have any balls, they’ll bring a private members bill proposing a referendum to allow the Oireachtas to remove disgraced members. Then watch as Fine Gael and Labour have to actually make a decision on this. Assuming Inda doesn’t have a new voting option added to Dail votes: Ta, Nil, and “Ah Jaysus, isn’t that carry-on shockin! Sure, someone should do something about that.” The man from Mayo needs to watch himself on this. If he can’t deliver a satisfactory outcome, he’ll be labelled with that label leaders struggle to shake off once affixed: Weak.