Dáil clerk’s report on Fianna Fáil voting incident to be published
Party braced for findings after Niall Collins voted for Timmy Dooley six times
Niall Collins voted for his colleague Timmy Dooley, who was not in the chamber.. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
A report into the Dáil voting controversy is to be published today following discussions by the clerk of the House with four Fianna Fáil TDs involved.
The Dáil’s Committee on Procedures will meet today at 9am and the report will be published soon after.
The report will examine the events of last Thursday, when Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins voted six times for his colleague Timmy Dooley, a Clare TD, while he was absent from the chamber.
It is understood the clerk Peter Finnegan spoke to Mr Collins and Mr Dooley about the issue. He has also spoken with Fianna Fáil TDs Lisa Chambers and Dara Calleary, after Ms Chambers admitted accidentally voting for Mr Calleary, the deputy leader of the party, while he was doing a radio interview.
Sources in Fianna Fáil said the party was braced for the findings with senior figures unsure if Mr Dooley or Mr Collins will participate in scheduled statements on the matter in the Dáil later.
A separate complaint has been made to the Dáil’s internal ethics committee by Fine Gael TD Noel Rock about Mr Dooley, Mr Collins, Ms Chambers and their party colleague Barry Cowen. This committee is also due to meet today.
It has the power to recommend a motion to the Dáil on the matter which could result in a potential expulsion of up to 30 days if the TDs are found to have breached ethics laws.
The committee may examine CCTV footage from around the Leinster House complex to determine the location of the relevant members, one source said.
Minister for Health Simon Harris said on Wednesday that the Constitution requires that a TD to be present in the Dáil chamber for a vote.
“We need to tighten up this thing of voting in seats, I fully agree with that, but that shouldn’t be allowed distract from people heading down the M8, home to Clare, while somebody else stays in the Dáil and votes six times for them,” he said. “If you can’t vote because you are busy or you have something on, you certainly don’t ask your buddy to press the button for you.”
The former clerk of the Dáil Kieran Coughlan has said the alarm expressed on the issue is understandable. He said that in the era of confidence and supply, the life of a government is no longer dependent on the result of Dáil votes and that many divisions have “lost their political edge”.
“The current difficulty of proxy voting experienced would be remedied if the existing rule was rigorously enforced and tellers would be able to stand over the accuracy of the vote,” he writes in an opinion piece in today’s Irish Times.