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// Petitions committee in plan for Dáil reform
MOVES ARE expected shortly to establish a new investigations, oversight and petitions committee in the Dáil to consider petitions submitted by citizens and organisations.
The programme for government pledges to establish a system "similar to that operating in the European Parliament", to be managed by a Dáil committee that will "investigate and report on petitions which raise issues warranting attention".
Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg said last night the proposed new committee would operate in "parallel" with the Committee of Public Accounts.
Fianna Fáil chief whip Seán Ó Fearghail said his party had not discussed the proposal as yet, "but on a personal level I don't see any difficulty with it".
Major changes in the operation and procedures of the House including extra sitting days and shorter holidays are due to be discussed at a meeting of party whips in Leinster House this evening.
This will be followed by a meeting between representatives of the two Government parties where a reduction in the number of parliamentary committees from 22 to 14 or 12 is expected to be discussed.
"They will be dramatically reduced from what they were," Mr Stagg said. He expected that committees in future would be set up to "mark" ministers introducing the most legislation.
"Some committees could take on two ministers," he said. The foreign affairs committee would be mainly devoted to policy issues.
Mr Stagg said he was "very hopeful" the revamped committee structures would be in place after Easter, by which time the new Seanad would have been elected.
The programme for government contains a series of undertakings on Dáil reform including a commitment that the House will meet four days a week.
13 Apr 2011
The Irish Times
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