The 31st Dáil may now sit for longer than previous Dáils, but that does not mean it is getting any more work done, a point which Galway West TDs seem to realise.
The Dáil now has shorter summer and Christmas holidays and recently Friday sittings were added to Dáil. However, last Friday’s sitting was not attended by any of the Galway West TDs.
Labour’s Derek Nolan could not attend as his new constituency office on Bothar na Long, New Docks, was being officially opened by party leader Eamon Gilmore - another Galwegian, who, by extension, could not attend Friday’s sitting either.
The remaining four TDs - Fine Gael’s Brian Walsh and Seán Kyne, Fianna Fáil deputy leader and Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, and Independent Noel Grealish - were not in the Dáil either, but were instead engaging in constituency work by attending a special HSE briefing meeting.
While in theory the new Friday Dáil sittings increases the number of meetings of the lower house throughout the year, in practice it makes very little difference to how the Dáil operates.
Privately some TDs have told the Galway Advertiser that the sittings are “little more than optics” and is “not well attended” as a result.
“The idea was to have the Fridays as a way for opposition TDs mainly, but also Government TDs who may wish, to bring forward bills for debate,” one source said. “However voting on such bills is not allowed on a Friday and can only be voted on when the Dáil resumes on a Tuesday. As a result it just becomes a talking shop and not many TDs attend.”