New party grouping may not give Fine Gael rebels speaking rights in the Dáil

There can only be one technical group under the current standing orders

Catherine Murphy

Catherine Murphy

Mon, Jul 8, 2013, 10:40

Rebel Fine Gael TDs may have to depend on the kindness of the technical group and Opposition parties for speaking time under the Dáil’s standing order rules.

There can only be one technical group and the current standing orders do not allow for a second technical group.

“Essentially you are what you are the day you are elected,” said Independent TD Catherine Murphy, whip for the group. She said standing orders were “hardline”.

Ms Murphy said, however, the technical group facilitated speaking time in the Dáil for TDs who had left their parties, because “we believe it is undemocratic to have TDs in the Dáil and not to provide them with speaking time”.

Independent TD Finian McGrath said no formal application to join had been made to the technical group.

Ms Murphy said that even if the rebels had seven members it would not entitle them to speaking rights and other entitlements under the rules, because they were still considered members of the party they were part of on the day they were elected.

“The political party has to be established at the time of a general election,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Oireachtas said TDs who left the party could not join the technical group. They could register as a new party with seven or more members.

But forming a new group or joining the technical group “seems to be precluded by Dáil standing orders which is based on electoral performance and the previous election”.

She added that standing orders were “less rigid” than the statutes that determined funding. Under the electoral Acts, funding for TDs stays with the parties they were with when elected to the Dáil.

As a consequence, Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s leader’s allowance will continue, for the lifetime of this Dáil, to include funds for his four rebel colleagues who voted against the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, and for former member Denis Naughten, who lost the whip in the row about the status of Roscommon hospital.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will also continue to receive funding for former TDs Róisín Shortall, Patrick Nulty and Colm Keaveney.