Dáil to consider rule change after dispute between three TDs

Row between Marc MacSharry and Healy Rae brothers made international headlines

The Dáil is to consider changing its rules after a dispute between three TDs made international headlines.

Angry exchanges were traded between Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry and Independent TDs Michael Healy Rae and Danny Healy Rae in a row over speaking time.

The Dáil’s business committee considered the matter on Thursday and there was agreement that the current system should be re-examined.

Under reform measures introduced earlier this year, TDs must queue to secure speaking time during the Order of Business, which questions the Taoiseach on promised legislation.


The committee unanimously agreed the present situation was not working and it should be re-assessed. However Independent TD Mattie McGrath objected to any change.

Members expressed the view that it should return to the old system, where TDs simply notified the Ceann Comhairle of their desire to speak.

Independent4Change TD Clare Daly proposed contacting the Ceann Comhairle's office in advance seeking speaking time.

Ceann Comhairle Sean O’Fearghaíl was not present at the meeting and therefore decisions were delayed until next week’s meeting.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr MacSharry said the row was a manifestation of his frustration at the current system.

The Fianna Fáil TD insisted he did not mean any disrespect to the Healy-Rae brothers but stressed the current regime was unfair to members of political parties.

Mr MacSharry said: “I accept that, taken in isolation, the spat is regrettable and ill-tempered and that is regrettable because it is a valid point.

“It is shame that it had to come to this point but Independent TDs form defacto parties on election to the Dáil and secure the same speaking time as the leader of a political party.

"Backbenchers from all parties, whether it be Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, are the bottom of the queue."

The matter will be considered next week.