New Dáil Select committees announced

The Dáil today approved government plans to announce a slimmed down Oireachtas Committee Structure – the 24 committees which existed previously have been lowered to ten.

The Oireachtas has a press release outlining them but the names seem to be a little askew, using very unwieldy names which didn’t appear on the Dáil’s official order paper. I’m using the titles as defined on the latter.

  • Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade (9 Dáil members)
    • Overseeing the functions of:
      • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform (21 Dáil members)
    • Overseeing the functions of:
      • Department of Finance
      • Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
  • Select Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education (21 Dáil members)
    • Overseeing the functions of:
      • Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation;
      • Department of Social Protection;
      • Department of Education and Skills
  • Select Committee on Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht (21 Dáil members)
    • Overseeing the functions of:
      • Department of Environment and Local Government;
      • Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport;
      • Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
  • Select Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture (15 Dáil members)
    • Overseeing the functions of:
      • Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
      • Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine
  • Select Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality (9 Dáil members)
    • Overseeing the functions of:
      • Department of Justice and Equality
      • Department of Defence
  • Select Committee on Health and Children (15 Dáil members)
    • Overseeing the functions of:
      • Department of Health
      • Department of Children and Youth Affairs
  • Select Committee on European Union Affairs (9 Dáil members)
  • Select Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement (15 Dáil members)
  • Select Committee on Investigations, Oversight and Petitions (15 Dáil members)

Some other procedural committees, which tend to exist outside of political structures, now exist too:

  • Committee of Public Accounts (13 TDs)
  • Committee on Members’ Interests (13 TDs)
  • Committee on Privilege and Procedure (9 TDs, including Ceann Comhairle)
  • Joint Administration Committee (16 TDs)

For the above ten committees, the government ministers responsible for their briefs and departments will be considered ex officio members with voting rights. In the first seven cases and that of the Joint Administration Committee, the Seanad will shortly set up its own parallel committees, and the two sets will then be merged to form Joint Oireachtas Committees. The chairpersons of each committee will be nominated at their first meetings.

It’s worth noting, too, are the amendments to Standing Orders approved by the Dáil as part of the approved new committee structure:

  • Committees can now hear both oral and written submissions from interested parties
  • Committees now have the power ‘to send for persons, papers and records’
  • Committees can now ask Government departments to compile notes on whether draft EU law is legal
  • Committees can compel government ministers to attend their meetings.

Your writer doesn’t know whether these powers take immediate effect, or whether some kind of enabling legislation is required in order for the committees to claim these powers, but either way the committees take on major new powers.