Three adjournments, three suspensions before Ceann Comhairle pulls plug on Dáil

Heated row over inclusion of former FG members in technical group

Independent TD Finian McGrath

Independent TD Finian McGrath

 

Dáil business was abandoned for the day yesterday afternoon and three TDs were suspended in a row over speaking time.

Proceedings were adjourned three times for almost an hour in total before the TDs – Independents Catherine Murphy, John Halligan and Thomas Pringle – were expelled after a vote on the suspension of each.

When a fourth Independent, Finian McGrath, rose to express his objection, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett announced he was suspending proceedings for the day because of “ongoing disruption” by members of the technical group.

The row continued for more than two hours in an ongoing dispute over speaking times for former members of Fine Gael Lucinda Creighton and Peter Mathews who applied to be part of the technical group. This would mean more TDs having the same speaking time.

Ms Murphy first raised the issue when she said she had received a letter from the Ceann Comhairle stating that if certain members of the technical group were not listed for speaking time in the chamber, he might call on them to speak

Ms Murphy asked if he was “going to administer the entire technical group?” Mr Barrett replied: “No. I do not interfere, but if I get complaints that people have been excluded, it is my duty to see that they are entitled to speak in this House.”

Responsibility

“If I receive a complaint that people are not being afforded the opportunity to make a contribution, I have a duty to make certain that they do.”

Ms Murphy said he was “not interfering with any other group” , but Mr Barrett said people were entitled to speak.

Independents have challenged the right of former party members to join the technical group while the party still collects exchequer funding for them.

Mr Halligan then intervened and told the Ceann Comhairle “we got conflicting legal advice from you. You gave us the legal advice”. As the exchanges became more heated, Mr Barrett suspended the House, then the TDs and finally abandoned proceedings.