Galway TD Denis Naughten has announced that he is putting his name forward to seek the position of Ceann Comhairle in the coming Dáil.
Naughten is the only confirmed candidate for the role of Ceann Comhairle aside from the current office holder Sean Ó Fearghaíl.
In a letter circulated to his Dáíl colleagues Naughten said that he is seeking the post of Ceann Comhairle due to the public frustration with accountability he experienced on the campaign trail.
“In an open, questioning culture, we need an effective and questioning parliament. Getting straight answers to straight questions is becoming more difficult in Dáil Éireann. This is reflected by that public frustration.”
“While the office of Ceann Comhairle is very restrictive in terms of the reform of Dáil Éireann and the role of TDs, one of the primary functions of this office is to protect the existing rights of members.”
“In the past I have been involved in Dáil Reform and have participated on an informal committee supporting the rights of members of Dáil Éireann. This is something I would like to expand upon in cooperation with colleagues.”
Whether or not Denis Naughten takes the job from Ó Fearghaíl will affect the balance of voting TDs in the Dáíl.
As the current Ceann Comhairle is a Fianna Fáil TD, but does not vote, if Ó Fearghaíl retains his position it would leave Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil with the same number of voting TDs.
Naughten said that he only intends to seek the office for a single term, which he would use to “re-establish the authority of individual parliamentarians” in the “interest of democracy”.
“I have been more than happy over the years to provide advice and assistance to new members, regardless of political beliefs, because I firmly believe there is a responsibility on every member to support less experienced colleagues in doing the best job they can as a member of Dáil Éireann.”
Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara was also in the running at one point, but has since withdrawn his name and thrown his support behind Denis Naughten.
The signatures of seven TDs are required in order for nomination papers to be accepted.
Nominations close at 6pm this evening, and the new Dáil will vote on the matter when it convenes for the first time tomorrow.