FF resists move to vacate meeting room

Wed, Mar 9, 2011, 00:00

FIANNA FÁIL is resisting attempts by Fine Gael to move the party out of the fifth-floor room where it has held its parliamentary party meetings since the 1960s.

Fine Gael is laying claim to the room on the basis of it becoming the largest party in the Oireachtas, but Fianna Fáil says it does not see the need to vacate a room that has many historical associations for the party.

Both sides dug their heels in yesterday, raising the possibility that the dispute may have to be arbitrated by the commission responsible for the running of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Fianna Fáil’s room is a light-filled, spacious chamber on the fifth floor of the main Leinster House building and is adjacent to Government Buildings, where the taoiseach and ministers have their offices. Portraits of Eamon de Valera and other former leaders adorn the walls.

The Fine Gael parliamentary party has been meeting in a windowless underground room in an annex to Leinster House.

With 76 Dáil seats, the party emerged from the election as the biggest party. Fianna Fáil was returned with just 20 TDs.

After the election, Fine Gael sought possession of the room to accommodate its increased numbers. Fine Gael chief whip Paul Kehoe said the party was hoping to take over the room, the largest one in the complex. However, Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath said his party did not see any logical reason to vacate the room.

The Fine Gael room was larger than Fianna Fáil’s, he claimed, and there was no practical reason to change. “The party has occupied these rooms for a long time, and they have close historical associations for us. Many an eventful meeting was held there over the years,” Mr McGrath said.

If there was a “genuine” reason to move, the party would examine it, he said, but this was not the case here.