Ceann Comhairle’s ‘unique position’ must be respected, says Burton

Decision to rule out debate on inquiry into Garda malpractice claims criticised by Kelly

Opposition TDs have staged a walkout from the Dáil chamber over the cancellation of a debate on the Guerin Report.

 

The “unique position” of the Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett must be respected, Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton has said.

Her comments come after her deputy leader and Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly strongly criticised Mr Barrett at a private meeting of Labour TDs and Senators on Wednesday night.

Ms Burton, speaking in Leopardstown, Dublin, this morning, said it was no secret the Labour Party and the Government as a whole would like to have seen a debate on the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into claims of Garda malpractice.

The Opposition staged a Dáil walkout yesterday after Mr Barrett ruled there would be no debate because of a connected legal action being taken by former minister for justice Alan Shatter, prompting critical remarks later by Mr Kelly.

“The Ceann Comhairle has a unique position as the person who rules the Dáil. We have to respect that. We would have been very happy to have seen a debate,” Ms Burton said.

However, Ms Burton said the Ceann Comhairle had been in correspondence with Mr Shatter and had made a ruling in the context of Dáil rules.

Speaking at the weekly meeting of the Labour parliamentary party, Mr Kelly criticised Mr Barrett’s ruling. He felt that such a ruling could lead to a scenario in the future that someone could go to the courts and seek a judicial review. This would have the effect of avoiding parliamentary scrutiny.

Ms Burton said the “bigger picture” was the Government had inherited a “legacy of difficulties” in relation to the reform of the justice system.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Ceann Comhairle had ruled no debate was possible on the terms of reference after receiving legal advice.

“In my view the independence of the Ceann Comhairle stands,” Mr Kenny said.