Dáil to sit next week after U-turn on Halloween break

Fianna Fáil voted for week off in business committee, Government Chief Whip claims

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty accused Micheál Martin of “completely undermining” the business committee  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty accused Micheál Martin of “completely undermining” the business committee Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Dáil has done a U-turn on a decision not to sit next week after a row between Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

There was uproar in the House after Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and Labour voted against a proposal to adjourn for the mid-term break.

Representatives of all parties had previously agreed to the Halloween break when it was discussed by the business committee, which orders the work of the House.

But Mr Martin questioned it in the House and said it would send “the wrong signal completely” to the public.

He said the Dáil rose on July 21st and resumed on September 27th. The Fianna Fáil leader said they were told in July that “major works were to be undertaken to physically refurbish the Chamber, but that did not happen”.

The sound and voting systems in the Dáil were changed during the recess.

TDs voted by 111 to nine to sit next week, reversing a previous agreement between all parties and groupings to take a Halloween break.

Abstained

Independent TD Michael Harty abstained in the vote. Green Party TDs Eamon Ryan and Catherine Marine voted for the mid-term break along with Independents Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Tommy Broughan, Maureen O’Sullivan, Joan Collins, Thomas Pringle and Mattie McGrath.

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty accused Mr Martin of “completely undermining” the business committee.

Ms Doherty said she had proposed to the committee that the Dáil should sit next week because of the lengthy summer recess “but I was overruled by practically every other member”.

She said “at the request of members of the business committee, to whom I am beholden, they voted for break next week. I only have one vote on the committee as has deputy Martin’s party”.

The committee agreed instead to sit during Christmas week, which does not normally occur. Ms Doherty said she had ordered the business so there would be no loss in sitting time.

Protested

But Mr Martin claimed his party was against the break but Ms Doherty said they only protested the week after the issue was discussed.

Accusing him of undermining the committee, Ms Doherty said the Fianna Fáil leader was the one who claimed to want Dáil reform.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said “there is no point in a meeting of the business committee because it has clearly become farcical”.

Mr McGrath, a member of the committee, echoed his view and said it was meaningless to have a business committee “if we are going to come in here and make a populist decision to overrule it”.

The Dáil will resume next week on Wednesday, November 2nd, at 2 pm.