Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jail Politicians who Drink before they Vote

Tom Barry: Drinking and Voting
Tom Barry has admitted that he had been drinking in the Dáil bar the night of the abortion debate, when, as the Guardian describes it, he 'grotesquely pull[ed] a woman colleague on to his lap.'  Many were complaining that the Dáil was debating the issue until 5am, and still more complained that the bar had remained open. Now, some representatives - including Professor John Crown who called for zero alcohol in the Dáil and breathalyser testing to be sure.

Last Thursday night's votes were extremely important to many people.  While your correspondent is of a view that it was mostly inconsequential, many people were of a view that the votes had implications for the lives of thousands of defenseless human beings, and still more were of the view that they had serious implications for the personal freedoms and health of women in this country.

We can argue all we want about the whip system, which means that TDs are essentially reduced to meaningless button pushers, but that's not the point.  Still further we can argue about whether running the Dáil that late makes sense.  And we can argue whether it's right to serve alcohol in the Dáil.

But if there are decisions of national importance to make, ones that are likely to have implications for the people of Ireland, and likely to attract international press attention irrespective of the result, it represents extraordinarily poor judgement to have a few drinks beforehand.  The discharge of your duty as a public representative is such an onerous and weighty responsibility, if they can't make their own minds up that they should do their utmost to enable clear and purposeful decision making, then they should be jailed for their negligent disregard for the interests of the country.  

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