Oireachtas adviser upset at TDs’ ‘insulting’ comments
Fine Gael TD John Deasy calls two colleagues “bullsh***ers” at PAC talks
Fine Gael TD John Deasy, who accused two other TDs of being ‘bullsh***rs’. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
The legal adviser to the Dáil and Seanad accused members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of undermining her independence and was very upset at a fractious meeting yesterday, during which a TD accused colleagues of being “bullsh***ers”.
The sharp exchanges happened during a private session as TDs discussed the decision of the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP) to deny the PAC the power to compel former Rehab chief executives Frank Flannery and Angela Kerins to appear before it.
Melissa English, the parliamentary legal adviser, interjected to say that statements in the media in recent weeks had undermined her independence and were “insulting” to her personally and professionally.
Waterford Fine Gael TD John Deasy then said the accusations being made by Ms English needed to be spelled out because they were so serious, which led Ms English to identify Independent TD Shane Ross, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and PAC chairman John McGuinness as those who had “questioned the independence of her office”.
Those present said Ms English was briefly very upset.
In recent weeks, Mr Ross and Ms McDonald questioned the role of the parliamentary legal adviser’s office in providing advice to both the CPP and the PAC.
Angry exchangesMs English said different staff were advising the two, and a principle of “Chinese walls”, which did not lead to conflicts, applied but Mr Ross said he did not believe in Chinese walls.
He also said that he never meant to question Ms English’s independence, but Mr Deasy interjected and said he had had enough of Mr Ross’s “bullsh**”, adding: “You are a bullsh***er.”
Angry exchanges followed between Mr Ross and Mr Deasy and, at one stage, Ms McDonald tried to interject to ask the two to put a stop to the “juvenile behaviour”, to which Mr Deasy replied: “You’re a bullsh***er too.”
Ms McDonald also explained her position and it is understood she said to Ms English that she was sorry if she caused offence with any remarks she had made.
Those at the meeting said there had been concern that the PAC had not been given external legal advice, as the CPP had received from a senior counsel.
One TD said: “We meant there hadn’t been external advice, rather than independent advice.”
Committee chairman John McGuinness later asked Mr Deasy if he wanted to withdraw his unparliamentarily comments.
“Like hell I will,” the Waterford TD said.
He then left the committee room but, on his way out, told his colleagues to “have a nice summer.”