We are told we live in a democracy. We elect 158 TDs to make the laws that govern us. That’s how its supposed to work.
But it doesn’t really.
In the last 2 years a majority in the Dail voted for some interesting new laws. They voted twice to put a ban on oil and gas exploration because of the Climate emergency. They voted to stop evictions by landlords on several grounds because of the housing crisis. They voted to restrict the use of plastics and support renewable electricity generation. They voted to legalise medicinal cannabis for people in pain. They voted for non religious controlled sex education in our schools. They voted to strengthen workers rights on pensions and redundancies. They even voted to ban goods from the Israeli occupied terrorities in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
And more, lots more.
In fact the are over 55 pieces of legislation proposing new laws on a whole range of issues.
These would make a difference to people’s lives, a difference for the better, for those facing evictions and those worried about the climate catastrophe, for the most vulnerable in our society, for migrants, for workers, for the homeless.
But there’s a slight problem.
None of these new laws became new laws!
Because we don’t really have a democracy like we think we have.
Even though the majority of TDs voted to support these laws they have been blocked by the minority Fine Gael led Government.
They use of a parliamentary trick called the “Money message” to block any new Bill they don’t like. This is a part of the Dail’s rules or Standing Orders.
It means they can block any Bill their friends in big business or the fossil fuel industry don’t like.
This rule is meant to comply with a Constitutional clause that says only the Government can spend or appropriate public money.
It is meant to be used to stop non Government bills that could change how much tax is raised or for big projects like schools or hospitals.
Instead its been used to block all bills, even bills that have no direct cost to the state or only small incidental costs.
That’s not what the constitutional clause was for, but it is how Fine Gael is using this rule to block every bill they don’t like.
Every bill that might make a positive difference to people’s lives
On Wednesday the 6th of November we have a chance to change this rule
We have a chance to allow real democracy work
We have a chance to stop evictions, to stop fossil fuel exploration and help the most vulnerable people here and elsewhere
People before Profit are going to propose a motion that will change how the Dail does business
The change will allow bills voted by a majority of TDs to become law
It wont stop the Government controlling the public finance
But it will stop the abuse of the Parliament
It will stop the blocking of these bills by big business and vested interests
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