Some TDs get shirty over Dáil dress code

Fri, Apr 15, 2011, 01:00

A ROW is brewing over the dress code for TDs, with the traditional parties pushing for stricter rules on what deputies can and cannot wear in Leinster House.

Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour are pushing for a formal code, but are meeting stiff resistance from the group of Independents and from Sinn Féin.

The first month of the 31st Dáil has seen a major deviation from traditional dress styles on the part of newer members: Wexford Independent Mick Wallace favours pink shirts; Luke “Ming” Flanagan wears buttoned-up shirts; while Richard Boyd Barrett tends to wear his shirts untucked.

At a meeting of party whips last week, Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe claimed the Dáil dress code had “gone to pot”, according to those present.

Mr Kehoe told the whips to go back to their members and urge them to show more “decorum”. However, his efforts have been rebuffed by the technical group of Independent TDs, to which Mr Wallace, Mr Flanagan and Mr Boyd Barrett belong.

Kildare North TD Catherine Murphy, who attends whips’ meetings for the group, said her colleagues had reacted extremely negatively to the proposal.

Fianna Fáil chief whip Seán Ó Fearghail said his party hadn’t yet taken a position, but he personally believed in the need for a dress code. “It bothers me that you see people in parliament in attire that would not gain entrance to nightclubs,” he said.

“They have a brass neck telling people what to wear, when some of the people who destroyed this country did it in fancy suits,” said Finian McGrath, co-ordinator of the technical group.

Current Dáil rules state merely that members should dress “in a manner that reflects the dignity of the House”. The Chief Whip is expected to bring the issue to the Committee on Privileges and Procedures when it is reconstituted after Easter.