Castro dispute prompts call for guidelines on Dáil tributes

Parties fail to agree on setting House time aside for statements on late Cuban leader

President Michael D Higgins signed the book of condolence for former Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the Cuban Embassy.

 

The Oireachtas is to draw up a set of guidelines on whether the Dáil should set aside time for tributes to deceased world leaders, following a dispute over potential statements about Fidel Castro.

The Dáil business committee on Wednesday discussed a proposal from Sinn Féin and a number of Independents to set time aside in the House for statements on Mr Castro.

President Michael D Higgins was criticised in some quarters at the weekend for a statement he released praising the late Cuban leader’s record.

Sinn Féin whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh was supported at the business committee meeting by Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith and Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle.

They were opposed by Government chief whip Regina Doherty, Fianna Fáil’s Michael Moynihan and Independent Mattie McGrath.

Some parties and groups had attempted to have statements for Mr Castro in the Dáil this week but Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and others objected.

Expressions of sympathy

When the business committee discussed the matter on Wednesday, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl brought a list of deceased world leaders for whom the Dáil had previously allowed expressions of sympathy. These included Nelson Mandela, King Hussein of Jordan, François Mitterand, Yitzhak Rabin and Indira and Rajiv Gandhi.

Sources said Fianna Fáil’s Mr Moynihan objected strongly to the proposal for having statements for Mr Castro. He said he had relatives in South America who had experience of such regimes as Mr Castro’s in Cuba.

The matter is to be referred to the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP), which will meet in the coming days to draw up guidelines on how to approach similar requests in future.

Differences of opinion remain, however. Those advocating statements for Mr Castro believe they will take place following the CPP meeting, while those against them are adamant they will not.