Ministers told they must seek permission to miss Dáil votes over ‘delicate voting situation’

Ministers must now advise chief whip a week in advance if they wish to be absent for a vote

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty: Government Chief Whip emailed every Cabinet Minister and Minister of State last week advising them of new procedures.

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty: Government Chief Whip emailed every Cabinet Minister and Minister of State last week advising them of new procedures.

 

Ministers have been warned they must arrange ministerial engagements outside Dáil sitting days because of the “delicate voting situation” facing the Government.

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty emailed every Cabinet Minister and Minister of State last week advising them of new procedures.

The email reads: “Given the delicate voting situation and being in a minority Government, the pairing arrangement that was previously in place no longer exists.

“Every effort must be made by you to arrange Ministerial engagements and meetings outside of Dáil sitting days.”

“Arrangements may be made in exceptional circumstances to facilitate the absence of a Minister, however this is not a guarantee.”

Ministers must now advise the office a week in advance of a sitting if they wish to be absent for a vote. Effectively, they will have to seek permission for absences.

“I must stress, however, that the majority of requests will be disallowed,” the email stated.

Fine Gael has the support of eight Independents, but will require the support of Fianna Fáil or other parties to progress legislation or pass votes in the Dáil.

“Things are so tight the Taoiseach is coming down to vote on Order of Business votes,” one Minister noted.

“No chances are being taken here. We are all well aware that it will take one or two Ministers to be away from the office to lose a vote.”

The new rules will also limit ministerial visits to international destinations.

Technical group

Meanwhile, Independent TDs Catherine Connolly, Maureen O’Sullivan and Thomas Pringle have aligned themselves with Independents4Change.

Ms O’Sullivan insisted she had not joined the party but would align herself with the technical group for speaking time.

However, the move has angered TDs in the People before Profit-Anti Austerity Alliance and Labour.

Their addition means this technical group, which already consists of Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Thomas Broughan and Joan Collins, has seven members.

It will supersede the PBP-AAA for speaking time and Leader’s Questions. There is also speculation Michael Fitzmaurice will join the group, which would mean they would also supersede the Labour party.

The Dáil reform committee met yesterday to discuss the situation, with Anti-Austerity Alliance Paul Murphy and Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy raising objections to the additions.