Committee chairman urged to call meeting over Lawlor


Pressure to hold an emergency meeting of an Oireachtas committee to remove Mr Liam Lawlor as its vice-chairman was growing last night.

The PDs' representative on the Finance and Public Service Committee, Senator John Dardis, joined Fine Gael and the Labour Party in calling for a meeting of the committee to be held this week to enable it to debate a motion on Mr Lawlor's position.

Mr Dardis told The Irish Times he agreed the meeting should go ahead this week. "I think it needs to be dealt with. The issue is an important one and should be discussed by the committee as quickly as possible."

However, the Fianna Fail chairman of the committee, Mr Michael Ahern, insisted the next meeting would not take place until January.

Fine Gael deputy Mr Jimmy Deenihan said he was very dissatisfied at the refusal to hold it this week. He wrote to Mr Ahern on Friday seeking a meeting at the earliest possible date.

"The finance committee has met at short notice on numerous other occasions on issues that were far less grave than the good standing and credibility of the committee itself," said Mr Deenihan.

Labour's finance spokesman Mr Derek McDowell pointed out that Mr Lawlor had been appointed vice-chairman of the committee by Fianna Fail. "This party . . . should now realise that the credibility of the committee and its members could be damaged if Liam Lawlor remains in this position," he said. He added it was preferable and perfectly feasible for such a meeting to be facilitated over the next few days "rather than attempting to delay it until the new year".

The committee has 19 members - 14 TDs and five senators. Fianna Fail and the PDs have eight members, including three senators and five TDs as well as Mr Lawlor and Mr Denis Foley, who vote with the Government. Fine Gael has six members, the Labour Party has two, and Independent senator Mr Joe O'Toole is also a member.

Last night a senior Fianna Fail source indicated the party would move to replace Mr Lawlor as a member of the committee in January.