Having a substitute in the Dail as suggested in the political reform segment of the FF manifesto would hardly free up a minister’s time at all, it’s not like voting in the Dail is causing them that many headaches for them as it is. They are already allocated up to half a dozen civil servants to handle their constituency work at the taxpayers expense. This is done without letting on to the constituent who is lead to believe it’s the minister who is writing and signing all those letters until that letter turns out to be for a murder or child molester in which case we’re then told it was their staff wrote it.
And what happens when the minister seeks to run for re-election or is dropped from the cabinet? Do they kick out the sub? and what do they campaign on? – People of Ballysomewhere “Vote for me, my sub did all the local work.” Or is it intended that you’d be a minister in a government and if you fall out of favour with the party leader that your political career over? Talk about giving a means to quell dissent against the leader.
Think about that for a moment, anyone who is a minister would serve entirely at the pleasure of the Taoiseach, once appointed they would be open to being dismissed and have no seat to return to, not means to challenge the leader of the day. There is a strong argument to made for this power if we were to elected the Taoiseach directly as the person in that office would have strong direct mandate from the people. Yet to continue to have the Dail elect the Taoiseach who then appoints ministers, none of whom will be able to challenge him for fear of losing their jobs, would mean that for example Michael Martin would not have been able to challenge Brian Cowen nor Albert Reynolds challenge Charles Haughey. Once gone as minister they would be gone from parliament and without an income would be gone from public life.
These set of proposals is even more half baked than I thought they might be, and FF are still persisting, and being allowed to do so by the press, with inventing terms that make no sense like single seat PR *(it’s called the Alternative Vote and as LibDems in the UK will tell you it’s not really all that proportionate) and unilateral renegotiation.