Two more Dáil defeats brings Government losses to six

Coalition loses on tracker mortgages and Bill to divest State of investments in fossil fuel

The legislation concerning fossil fuel was introduced by Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle. Photograph: Eric Luke

The legislation concerning fossil fuel was introduced by Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The Government has been defeated in the Dáil twice in votes on fossil fuels and on tracker mortgages.

It brings to six the number of Government defeats on Private Member’s motions, including Bills, since the Coalition was formed in May last year.

It avoided another defeat last year by not calling a vote and conceding to a Fianna Fáil motion for variable mortgage interest rates.

The issues voted on in all previous defeats have been referred to committees or for legal advice, but no progress has been reported to date.

In the first vote on Thursday, the Government lost by 90 to 53 on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill, mustering the support of the Government’s coalition partners.

The legislation was introduced by Independent Donegal TD Thomas Pringle and provides that the National Treasury Management Agency divests itself of its interests in fossil fuel companies.

The Government was also defeated by 91 votes to 53 on the Sinn Féin motion on tracker mortgages and the Fianna Fáil amendment on the issue was accepted by 97 votes to 46.

Tracker mortgage rates

Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty called for the 15,000 people who were wrongly denied tracker mortgage rates by banks to be given a date when the correct rate would be reinstated. He also called for those responsible to be held accountable and for stricter legislation on white-collar crime.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath, whose amendment was accepted, focused on an early date for reinstatement of tracker mortgage rates. He was also highly critical of the Central Bank which he said had shown a complete lack of urgency in dealing with the issue.

In a separate division, the Dáil accepted a Government amendment by 94 votes to 50 to Independent TD Tommy Broughan’s call for a commission of investigation to be established into the Stardust fire in 1981 in which 48 people died.

The Government amendment called for a legal person, most likely a judge, to be appointed to review all the new evidence from the families of the victims of the fire, and for a commission of inquiry to be established if the judge recommends it.

Mr Broughan described the move as “kicking the can down the road”.

Collective bargaining

The Government first lost a vote in May last year on a Labour motion on workers’ rights and collective bargaining.

Its was defeated when an amendment from Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster to regulate rickshaws was accepted against Government wishes, on the Road Traffic Bill. It was not however implemented when the Act was passed as Minister for Transport Shane Ross said he would refer it for further advice to the Attorney General.

The Government was also defeated on a Sinn Féin motion on pension equality, when a Fianna Fáil amendment removing the requirement for employees to retire at 65 was accepted.

The Coalition lost out again last week in a vote on a Fianna Fáil motion calling for the implementation of a compensation scheme for tillage farmers whose crops were destroyed by heavy rain.