Clare Daly may face action over comments about judge

Committee considers if TD’s remarks about judge constituted abuse of Dáil privilege

Clare Daly:  accused  judge  of irrational behaviour and creating “huge problems” in administration of justice. Photograph:  Brenda Fitzsimons

Clare Daly: accused judge of irrational behaviour and creating “huge problems” in administration of justice. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Independent4Change TD Clare Daly could face disciplinary action after recently making comments about a member of the judiciary in the Dáil who she had appeared before on a speeding charge.

The Dáil’s Committee on Procedure and Privileges met on Wednesday evening to consider whether the allegations by Ms Daly constituted an abuse of Dáil privilege.

Last month the Dublin Fingal TD accused a judge in Naas District Court of irrational behaviour and creating “huge problems” in the administration of justice.

At a meeting yesterday evening Ceann Comhairle Sean O’Fearghaíl circulated a transcript of her remarks to the members of the committee. He asked that the TDs consider the allegations and to examine whether they breached the House’s standing orders.

The committee agreed to write to Ms Daly to request an explanation of her comments and to outline whether she believes she abused her privilege.

A decision will be made on foot of her response as to whether further action is warranted.

Personal explanation

If the committee finds Ms Daly has abused her privilege she will be required to make a personal explanation to the House and asked to withdraw without qualification the comments.

If she refuses to do so the Ceann Comhairle will be in a position to “reprimand the member in his or her place”.

Using Dáil privilege, Ms Daly said Judge Desmond Zaidan had made an “irrational decision’’ to issue a bench warrant for her arrest three weeks ago after she left Naas court – where she was due to appear on a speeding charge – before her case was called.

She said she turned up in court with her solicitor but left when she saw a large number of people waiting for their cases to be heard before hers.

Ms Daly also alleged the judge “jumped” to her case and called her solicitor before the court to explain his client’s absence.

“I watched how the judge had dealt with the cases there before me, saw cases where people had not turned up on similar charges, did not have a solicitor on similar charges and no bench warrants or any proceedings were dealt with,” she said in the Dáil.

“I had to return to Naas District Court to listen to the same judge lecturing me about disrespecting his court without giving me an opportunity to say anything about his irrational decision.

“Our laws provide that nobody can do anything about that judge but he is causing huge problems with regard to the administration of justice, given the inefficiency of the court sittings in his district. This needs to be radically reformed.”