The Green Party today criticised Fianna Fáil’s commitment to political reform following a series of statements yesterday by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.
On Tuesday, it emerged that the Fianna Fáil leader had made written complaints to the Ceann Comhairle over Dáil reforms agreed after the general election that gave increased speaking rights to smaller political parties. He then put forward a counter-motion reversing a position agreed by the newly established cross-party Business Committee, which sets the Dáil agenda.
Along with changes in speaking rights, the Business Committee is a leading component in a series of reforms agreed following the last general election that aim to open the workings of the Dáil to all parties.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said: "The conversion of both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to 'new politics' seems to have come to an end. Both parties are now working together to restrict the amount of time being given to smaller parties in Dáil statements. Such statements make up a small but important part of Dáil business.
"Independent analysis shows that overall speaking times are allocated to parties on a proportional basis, with bigger parties having the advantage of speaking first. Now they want to go further by cutting the speaking time for the smaller parties. That would restrict debate in an attempt to return us to an old two-party system that has had its day."
Oliver Moran, the party's political reform spokesperson and representative in Cork North Central, said: "The suspicion all along was that Fianna Fáil's commitment to ‘new politics’ was short term. That failing commitment is now being shown in spades.
"Actions such as undermining the cross-party Business Committee with stunts and complaining to the Ceann Comhairle that they should be able to dominate Dáil time likes days of yore show that their commitment has ended. Micheál Martin has let the mask slip and what we see is a hunger for a return to the 'old politics' of Fianna Fáil."
The Green Party voted to support the position agreed at the Business Committee and will resist Mr Martin's attempts to reduce speaking rights for smaller parties.