The House of Commons is due to debate a constitutional reform proposal this afternoon, with the proposal to scrap the present four-year parliamentary session and form a new parliamentary session.
The proposal has been welcomed by opposition parties and the Irish Independent newspaper.
The proposed reforms to the current constitution, proposed by Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, would see a new parliament elected for a period of four years, replacing the current six-year Parliament, with a six-month interim period.
Ms McDonald told the Irish Times that a two-term Parliament would be required for any changes to the constitution, and said a four-month Parliament would enable the Irish people to decide whether or not they wanted a new government.
Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou Mcdonald (L) with Sinn Fáin leader Gerry Adams at a press conference in Dublin.
Photo: Brendan Esposito Sinn FÁIN TD Mary Louise McDonald said the proposed changes would remove “the fear of political conflict, which is now an obstacle to change”.
Sinn FÉin has long advocated scrapping the current parliament and forming a new one.
“If we can’t have a new Parliament, the question is whether we can have a fresh election,” she said.
“So the question becomes how can we have a government that has a mandate to carry out change?”
Ms McDonald said she had “great faith” in the Irish political system.
“We have the most progressive constitution in Europe, with respect to women, equality, and so forth,” she told the newspaper.
“It’s time we got rid of the fear of politics, which in my view is an obstacle that’s holding us back from doing what we should be doing.”
Sinn Fíntism TD Michael Healy-Rae said the proposal would be “dangerous” and could lead to an “absolute freeze of the Constitution”.
“It would be the first step in the process of abolishing the Constitution,” he said.
Mr Healy Rae also said he believed it was “very difficult to get support for a constitutional change in the House of Representatives”, adding that “there is no chance of a majority” in favour of such a change.
The proposals would not affect any current laws or regulations, but would be subject to a review by the Dáil and could be put to a referendum.
The Irish Independent reported on Friday that Sinn Fóin was seeking to introduce a motion to call a referendum on the proposal.
Sinn Fein TD MaryLou McDonald (L), with Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams, and Sinn F Át Éireann’s John O’Mahony.
Photo in the Département de Dublin.
Ms Mcdonald said she did not believe Sinn F Éin was prepared to give up power to a “few people”.
She said that Sinn Fein would “have to act” and was prepared for a “yes” vote.
“There’s a lot of energy in the country now, and if we all stood together and voted yes we would be unstoppable,” she added.
“But if we vote no, then we’re going to have to take it from here, so we’ve got to take this seriously.”
Ms McDonald had previously said Sinn Fís support for the proposed constitutional change would “change everything” and would lead to the abolition of the current Parliament.
“I’ve always said that if we don’t change the rules of the game now we’re doomed,” she explained.
Sinn féin leader Mary Lou McDóid said the House was “ready to debate this issue”.
“Our position is clear, we will not allow a parliamentary session to be used as a political vehicle to make changes to our Constitution,” she continued.
“That’s why we will oppose this motion to form a Parliament.”