Revealed: the politicians who speak most often in the Dáil

Latest analysis reveals the Irish politicians with most speeches on average

 

Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath is the Dáil deputy who has most regularly contributed to debates this year, speaking 270 times to date, an analysis of Oireachtas speeches finds.

Among the parties, Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs have spoken the most times on average. The parties account for just 4 per cent of the seats in the Dáil, but have made 7.5 per cent of the spoken contributions since the beginning of 2017.

Fianna Fáil is the only other party that accounts for a larger portion of speaking time than its seat tally. It has around 25 per cent of seats but made up 28 per cent of spoken contributions so far this year.

The analysis is taken from KildareStreet.com, a searchable database of everything said in the Oireachtas. The average number of contributions for a TD is 85. Heckling or shouting in most cases is not recorded in the speaking count but if a TD interrupts another deputy to make a point in the Dáil that is counted in the number of times they have spoken in the chamber.

The Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl is recorded as speaking 583 times on the Dáil record, but as the chair of the House these are not speeches. The Ceann Comhairle opens the business of the Dáil each day, and has to routinely remind TDs to stay within their allocated time when they are making speeches.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has made 253 spoken contributions, his colleague Bríd Smith has spoken 198 times and Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger has made 187.

Biggest talkers

The biggest talkers for Fianna Fáil were party leader Micheál Martin, with 221 contributions – followed by Robert Troy (129) and finance spokesman Michael McGrath (107). Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokesman Stephen Donnelly has spoken in the chamber 58 times since joining the party in February.

Former taoiseach Enda Kenny tops Fine Gael’s list for most contributions made in the Dáil at 228. Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs Frances Fitzgerald spoke 152 times.

The quieter TDs among Fine Gael’s backbenchers include new TD Noel Rock, who has spoken 19 times, and Waterford TD John Deasy who made just 11 contributions. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recently appointed Mr Deasy as a special envoy to the United States Congress to work on behalf of the undocumented Irish.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has spoken 219 times while Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has made 250 contributions.

Mattie McGrath’s constituency rival and fellow Independent TD Michael Lowry TD has made 21 contributions this year.

Gerry Adams is Sinn Féin’s top speaker on 193 contributions, followed by deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald on 158, and Pearse Doherty on 154 speeches.

Other outspoken TDs include Clare Daly, who was noted as speaking 169 times on the Dáil record, and Wexford TD Mick Wallace, who spoke 167 times.

Equal time

Fianna Fáil is looking to change the speaking arrangements in the Dáil to give the larger parties more speaking time. Currently, when the Dáil takes opening statements on a Bill or motion each party or technical group gets an equal amount of time to put forward their views on the issue.

All other speaking arrangements, including Leaders’ Questions, private members’ time, priority questions, and the introduction of motions are allocated proportionally according to the size of each party.

Fianna Fáil is seeking Fine Gael’s support to make speaking time on opening statements also proportional to the size of each party. The rule changes are planned to come into effect when the Dáil comes back after the summer break.

Mr Boyd Barrett said the proposed change to reduce smaller parties speaking time is “unjustified”.

Mr Rock said currently smaller parties “get a disproportionate amount of time to speak” in the Dáil.