Sinn Féin TD says it is ‘incredible’ Leinster House has two bars

AAA-PBP deputy Paul Murphy says old party system now dead so Dáil rules need to change

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly: “Many people cannot understand why we start every day with a prayer.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly: “Many people cannot understand why we start every day with a prayer.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Newly-elected Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly said she found it “incredible’’ that Leinster House has two bars.

The building has a public bar for members, staff and visitors, and another bar restricted to current and former Oireachtas members.

“Aside from providing employment, albeit with somewhat erratic hours, I cannot see any reason for the existence of bars in this or any other workplace,’’ said Ms O’Reilly.

She said the opportunity should be used to find a new way of doing politics and make some real and lasting reforms.

“If we think people outside this chamber agree we need two bars we are fooling nobody. The public certainly does not think two bars are necessary.’’

Ms O’Reilly, who represents Dublin Fingal, also criticised the reciting of a prayer to start the day’s business.

“Similarly, many people cannot understand why we start every day with a prayer rather than a few moments of quiet and inclusive reflection.’’

Obligation

AAA-PBP deputy Paul Murphy said that the 2½-party system was dead.

“It is no longer reflected in this parliament, and, therefore, there was an obligation and necessity for the rules of the Dáil to change to reflect that reality.’’

He said the idea of a substantial left force, to represent working-class people and that could become a major party in the country, had not fully emerged. But it was a process that was taking place.

Mr Murphy said he welcomed the provision whereby the Ceann Comhairle could deal with situations where Ministers repeatedly refused to answer questions.

“I see this proposal as a positive step, and I hope the Ceann Comhairle takes advantage of this power and pays close attention to the answers Ministers are giving, or not giving, and then lays his report before the House.’’

Small parties

Mr Murphy said the fact there might be multiple technical groups was significant and an important step forward, reflecting the reality of the rise of Independents and small parties in Irish politics.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said he was sceptical regarding Dáil and political reform.

“While I welcome the proposals in the subcommittee’s report, I do not believe they are groundbreaking measures worthy of taking out our big flags,’’ he said. “Some of them are very simple.’’

He said the provision allowing the Ceann Comhairle to intervene when a Minister was not giving a direct reply to a question should be extended to Opposition leaders’ questions to the Taoiseach.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said she hoped to use the independent budgetary oversight committee to examine measures passed by the Dáil which were not proofed in the areas of poverty, equality and gender.

She warned against politicians clapping themselves on the back about Dáil reform.

She said Fine Gael and Labour would have introduced measures in the past five years if they were serious about the issue.