High Court to deliberate on dispute over Dáil rules

Case arises after Ceann Comhairle blocks bid by TDs to alter regulations on order paper

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The High Court is to hear judicial review proceedings which could open the way to a change in Dáil rules and prevent the Government blocking Opposition Bills.

Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs were granted a full hearing of their challenge to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl yesterday.

However, Mr Justice Garret Simons refused an injunction ordering Mr Ó Fearghaíl to change yesterday’s Dáil order of business, saying he was reluctant to “rewrite the order paper voted on by a majority of the Dáil”.

The judge did say the TDs had an “arguable” case and a full hearing should take place as soon as possible.

TDs were at the High Court seeking to overturn a decision by Mr Ó Fearghaíl to rule out of order amendments they proposed to the Dáil’s rules.

The motion seeks to prevent the Government from blocking Opposition Bills by withholding a “money message” necessary to allow them to proceed through the legislative process – even when they have been voted for by the Dáil.

The Government has used the procedure, previously a formality, to block more than 50 Opposition Bills. After the hearing Dublin TD Bríd Smith said the case had “prised open” a “serious abuse” of Dáil rules.

Investigation

The Dáil’s ethics committee has decided to proceed with an investigation into the four Fianna Fail’s TDs caught up in the voting controversy.

The Member’s Interests Committee met this morning and has agreed to proceed with the inquiry which comes after a complaint by Fine Gael TD Noel Rock.

The committee will now write to Timmy Dooley, Niall Collins, Lisa Chambers and Barry Cowen to ask if they have any further information to add beyond what they have already told the clerk of the Dáil.

The committee has the power to recommend a sanction to the Dáil, including a suspension of up to 30 days.

They hope to have their recommendations by the end of a month when a lengthy meeting is scheduled.