Sharp exchanges as Taoiseach and leaders clash on questions

Thu, Mar 10, 2011, 00:00

DÁIL SITTINGS:THE TAOISEACH, Enda Kenny, said there would be an Opposition leaders’ question time when the Dáil resumed next week.

During sharp exchanges, he indicated that the agenda for Tuesday’s sitting would be provided to party whips today.

Mr Kenny said that, normally, the Dáil broke for about two weeks after a government was formed. While he saw no reason why the House should not be back on Tuesday next, there was a practical problem regarding written or oral questions.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that although citizens wished to see the reformation of the House, the Taoiseach proposed not to allow oral questions.

“Not so, Deputy Adams,” replied Mr Kenny. “Were we to look back at the record of the last 50 years, it would show that on each occasions when a new government was appointed, the break was for at least two weeks.”

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said what was important was that people were interested in meaningful reform. TDs needed to know that something of substance would be on the agenda for next Tuesday and that it was not simply about image and playing gesture and optic politics. “I suspect this to be the case and I seek the agenda for Tuesday,’’ he added.

“Will legislation appear before the House next Tuesday or is there a specific topic to be discussed?”

He said he had made the point during the election campaign, and in previous weeks, that there was no point in having additional sittings if members continued with the same Punch and Judy show.

Mr Kenny replied: “I thank Deputy Martin for his earlier comments. The first thing to happen next Tuesday will be [Opposition] leaders’ questions, at which the deputy can ask a question more meaningful than the one he has just asked.’’

After further exchanges, Mr Kenny said he was not interested in the Punch and Judy show. “I am talking about really effective change and Deputy Martin will find that he will have an opportunity to contribute to that and to make this House more meaningful for everyone.”