IRELAND NEEDS POLITICAL REFORM SAYS FIANNA FÁIL LEADER

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Fianna Fáil’s leader Micheál Martin has said that political reform is much needed as his party along with Fine Gael have taken the largest amount of seats in the Dáil. This sees the new parties such as RENUA – whose manifesto was based on reforming politics – hugely miss out.

“We believe that the new Dáil should not represent more business as usual – that it should involve a decisive move towards a reformed politics,” Martin said in a statement released yesterday.

Fianna Fáil have more than doubled their amount of seats since the last Dáil, and Martin has said that Enda Kenny’s failure to implement political reform is “one of the biggest broken promises of the outgoing government”.

Lucinda Creighton had huge hopes for political reform when she set up RENUA and the downfall of her party is mocked by the revival of Fianna Fáil in this election. “We’re baaaaack” is what TD Conor Lenihan had to say as his party saw themselves come fighting back.

After all of the complaining over Fianna Fáil leading the country into trouble in 2007, and the likes of water charges and other taxes that Fine Gael brought in, it was thought that this election could have brought about massive changes in who was in government.

The main elements of Martin’s statement that he put forward included the following:

• Major limit on ability of government to control all business on an ongoing basis.

• Set timings for legislation except in emergencies and an end to the practice of guillotines.

• Earlier and more comprehensive review of legislation.

• The establishment of an independent budget review office to review and cost all proposals brought to a vote by either government or opposition.

• The establishment of an office of Independent Legal Advisor to the Oireachtas.

• A new regulatory oversight process.

With just three seats left to fill, it has become evident that the biggest losers in the General Election 2016 is Creighton’s RENUA party.

Creighton was the first of the party’s seat holders to suffer defeat as she was eliminated in Dublin Bay South on Saturday night. This result was followed by the knock out of RENUA’s Terence Flanagan in the Dublin Bay North constituency and later Billy Timmins in Wicklow.

These three candidates were RENUA’s best chance at gaining a seat in Dáil Éireann this term, and the results couldn’t have been worse.

Creighton set up RENUA in March of last year after having been expelled from Fine Gael for opposing the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. RENUA ran 26 candidates in this election and with no seats obtained, the only good news for the new party is that they reached the 2% threshold to receive state funding.

First elected to the Dáil in 2007, Creighton also held the position of Minister of State for European Affairs from 2011 to 2013 before being succeeded by Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe.

The RENUA fiasco in this years election is bitter sweet for Creighton as she tweeted a picture of her child with her noting that her elimination meant she could spend more time with her daughter.

Billy Timmins also suffered a massive blow following his unsuccessful result on Sunday. He fell at the last hurdle in the final count in Wicklow as he lost out to Fianna Fáil’s Pat Casey for the fifth and final seat.

Timmins had been a TD since 1997 and sat previously an Independent, having lost the Fine Gael party whip in 2013. Politics was a dominant part of the Timmins family as his father, Godfrey Timmins, had also held a seat in the Dáil. Godfrey was first elected in 1968 and stayed there (despite one office term in 1987) until 1997 when Billy took over.

Creighton has said that RENUA need to “reflect on the election and work towards keeping the party going.”

By Aisling McCabe

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