Belfast Telegraph

Martin wants ministers' power curb

Government ministers should be given less control and their policy decisions vetted by experts, Fianna Fail has claimed.

Party leader Micheal Martin said real political reform was needed to win back the public's trust. He said the Fine Gael-Labour coalition had failed to deliver genuine change and accused the parties of simply wanting their turn in office.

"During this year, Fianna Fail will publish specific measures for reforming the Dail and government," Mr Martin said. "These will reduce the absolute control ministers have on all elements of the Dail's work, will introduce real oversight over their actions and will bring outside expertise into policy decisions."

Mr Martin insisted he would not allow the moment for reform to be lost, as he gave his presidential address at the Fianna Fail ard fheis in Dublin's RDS.

Earlier, the leader revealed his party would oppose Government plans to abolish the Seanad. He said while the upper house of the Oireachtas did need to be reformed, scrapping it altogether was an attempt by the Government to "power grab".

Elsewhere, Mr Martin criticised the Government for its new personal insolvency scheme. He said the measures, aimed at helping borrowers strike deals with their lenders to help them get back to solvency, give too much power to the banks.

"It is wrong for this Government to make it easy for the banks to repossess family homes and that is why we will oppose its Home Repossession Bill next week in the Dail," Mr Martin added.

"Giving banks full control of debt restructuring is not an agenda for action - it is a recipe for escalating the human, social and economic damage."

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail delegates at the ard fheis overwhelmingly passed all motions on abortion committing the party to a pro-life position.

They also voted against supporting legislation that widens grounds for abortion outside existing limits. Proposed new abortion laws will go before Cabinet on Tuesday.


From Belfast Telegraph