Saturday, June 22, 2013

Open Letter to Sean Barrett TD, the Ceann Comhairle

A Ceann Comhairle, I watch Leaders' Questions with interest on RTE.

As a proud Toastmaster from the Tralee Club in Kerry, I appreciate how difficult the Ceann Comhairle's role is in chairing the proceedings. With 166 members of Dail Eireann fighting to get their point across at any one time, marshalling them and keeping them in order and on time is a difficult task.

Toastmasters prides itself on positive evaluation and always offers a suggestion or two as to how future performance might be improved. With that in mind, I offer you the following constructive recommendations:

Ceann Comhairle, Leaders Question is for many the centrepiece of the Irish political week and when we tune in we hope to hear a passionate questions and answers session.

The electric rhythm of proceedings can be somewhat disrupted by the use of "Deputy, could I have a question, please" or "Deputy, your supplementary question, please", which I counted for example, on eleven occasions on Wednesday, 15th June. It's important to keep to time and you do that well, but your role works best when your good work is unseen, like a top referree in a football game.

Also Ceann Comhairle, all of our meetings at Toastmasters start on time, every time. If Leaders' Questions followed this example to the letter, there might be a little more time available for the ebb and flow of political discourse. I'm sure you can recall instances of political dynamite emerging over the years in the last ten seconds of an answer? These moments would have been lost forever had we stuck rigidly to the time, so perhaps you could gain a few minutes by starting a little earlier?

Finally Ceann Comhairle, I believe the sea air in Kerry might agree with you and I recommend you come down for a week or two for your Summer holidays. You appeared less than happy with your lot on a number of occasions when I saw you in the chair and you would of course be warmly welcomed should you take the opportunity to pop in to see us at one of the many Toastmaster clubs that are thriving in the county they call the Kingdom.