TD insists apology owed to him over 'scurrilous allegations'

 

INDEPENDENT TD John Halligan has refused a formal request to apologise to Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett over an incident in the Dáil corridor on July 18th.

In a statement last night, the Waterford TD said an apology was owed to him over what he described as “scurrilous accusations” that he had perpetrated “a verbal assault” on the Ceann Comhairle.

Mr Halligan’s statement is the latest development in a controversy that arose following a heated verbal altercation between Roscommon Independent TD, Luke “Ming” Flanagan, and the Ceann Comhairle on July 18th in which Mr Halligan was also involved.

The incident arose after members of the Dáil technical group protested that a vote had not been taken on the Personal Insolvency Bill.

Last night Mr Halligan released the text of a letter which he sent this week to the Clerk of the Dáil, Kieran Coughlan, in response to correspondence dated July 19th.

In the letter he says he was appalled at the manner in which the Ceann Comhairle handled the debate on the Second Stage of the Personal Insolvency Bill.

“After the close of business, I approached the Ceann Comhairle in the corridor to query why he had not called a vote and was told to ‘go away’. When I continued to ask why a vote had not been forthcoming, the Ceann Comhairle held up his hand and again told me to ‘go away’, a reaction I found highly inappropriate and offensive from a constitutional office holder.”

Mr Halligan added that he was incredulous that his request for information from the Ceann Comhairle was construed as behaviour which warranted an apology to the Dáil and Mr Barrett.

“Regarding the serious allegation that I perpetrated a verbal assault against the Ceann Comhairle, I wish to categorically state that at no point did I engage in offensive or threatening behaviour or language against Mr Barrett. My questions to the Ceann Comhairle were solely in relation to the Bill and I wish to place on record that there was absolutely nothing in my language or behaviour that could have put Mr Barrett in fear of his well-being or safety.

“Nor are there any circumstances in which my language, demeanour or behaviour could be interpreted as ‘vicious’.”

Mr Halligan added that throughout his political career he had never engaged in abusive language or behaviour towards any individual.

“My political reputation is impeccable, not to mention of paramount importance to me. To this affect, I demand a full retraction of the scurrilous accusations that I have perpetrated a ‘verbal assault’ on the Ceann Comhairle.

“And I insist that a full apology be made for what is undoubtedly a slur on my good name as an elected representative and member of Dáil Eireann,” concluded the letter.