Lessons unlearned

Oh dear. It seems the Government is still having trouble getting its head around the reasons for the referendum defeat.

Hurriedly added to today's Dáil schedule is a motion to approve an agreement between the EU and Australia on the exchange of passenger information. The first that most TDs had heard of this agreement, with all its implications for confidentiality and data retention, was when a briefing note was circulated around 6.00 last night. Clearly, that's not enough time to scrutinise the agreement in detail - and the usual procedure of allowing an Oireachtas committee to thrash it out won't apply either. Why not? Where's the urgency?

With an absolutely straight face, Brian Cowen told the Dáil it had to be approved in this way, because ... the Slovenians are concluding their presidency of the EU soon and are anxious to have this on their record. And we're the only member state that hasn't got around to approving it yet.

Can anyone seriously argue these days that the parliament's role is as anything more than a rubber stamp? Even Cowen seemed embarrassed about it.

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