Ceann Comhairle blocks attempt to change standing orders in Dáil

TDs seeking to stop Government blocking opposition Bills approved by Dáil

Richard Boyd Barrett  said the use of the device by the Government was ‘an outrageous sabotage of democracy.’ Photograph: Collins

Richard Boyd Barrett said the use of the device by the Government was ‘an outrageous sabotage of democracy.’ Photograph: Collins

 

Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs have threatened to seek an injunction after the Ceann Comhairle blocked an attempt to change standing orders in the Dáil tomorrow.

The TDs are seeking to have standing orders changed in order to prevent the Government blocking opposition Bills that have been approved by the Dáil.

But the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail has refused to allow a motion to change the standing orders, citing concerns about its constitutionality.

On Tuesday afternoon at Leinster House People Before Profit TDs, citing Dáil precedents, said that the Ceann Comhairle had no role in assessing the constitutionality of Dáil motions.

They have said that if the Ceann Comhairle does not reverse his decision, they may seek a High Court injunction on Tuesday compelling him to reinstate their motion to Wednesday’s Dáil order paper.

“This is absolutely outrageous,” People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett said. “The Ceann Comhairle does not have the power to do this.”

He said that the Ceann Comhairle’s ruling was “an enormous breach in precedent”.

Mr Boyd-Barrett said that the Ceann Comhairle told the TDs that his decision on the basis of “oral legal advice” from the Oireachtas legal adviser’s office.

“The net effect of this is that the Dáil, which is allowed set its own rules, is being denied that right and a motion trying to free up 50 opposition Bills which have been passed by a majority . . . has been sabotaged in the last minute,” he said.

More than 50 opposition Bills have been blocked by the Government using an administrative device called a “money message”, despite a majority of TDs voting in favour of the measures, which include Bills on climate change, the legalisation of cannabis for medical use and sex education.

Under Dáil rules, an opposition bill cannot proceed through the legislative process unless the Government supplies a “money message” – but the Fine Gael-led Government has used the device, previously a formality, to block opposition Bills even though they have passed their first vote in the Dáil.