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Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil (Continued)

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 996 No. 3
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly] I ask Deputy McNamara to take his seat. That is what we are doing next.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy Under which Standing Order is a question assumed to be agreed to if one of the tellers does not sign?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I will have to get clarification on that.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Under which Standing Order did Deputy Paul Murphy make a point of order earlier?

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I ask Deputies to show a little respect.

A Deputy: Yes. Members owe respect.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly People are watching this. I ask Members to stop this. I am going through a procedure. I ask Members again for their co-operation. Tá a gcuid tacaíochta á lorg agam. I will check the Standing Order in response to the question that has been put.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I ask Members to resume their seats while the Leas-Cheann Comhairle is speaking. I will clarify which Standing Order it is. The next step in the procedure is to put the motion, as amended. I have not done that yet. To answer Deputy Paul Murphy's question, it is Standing Order 82.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly The Standing Order I have cited is the relevant Standing Order.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I ask Deputy Paul Murphy to resume his seat. I am told, and I accept, that the relevant Standing Order is Standing Order 82 of this year, 2020. I ask Deputy Murphy to resume his seat. I will proceed with the motion. The next part is that-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett On a point of order-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I will take no more points of order. I ask Deputies to give up this sense of consternation. The proposal, as amended, which I have not put, I will put formally. If parties wish to make brief contributions, I will allow that.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I am making a ruling as Chair rather than trying to dance on the tip of a needle with points of order. If each group wishes to make a contribution on the amended motion, I will allow that. Does Deputy Bríd Smith wish to make a contribution on behalf of her group?

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly To be clear, does the House agree to a contribution from each group?

Deputy Jack Chambers: Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers Vótáil. Not agreed.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I wish to make a point on the record, on behalf of Solidarity-People Before Profit. The fact that we are putting these motions and amendments to the House is reminiscent of a dictatorship of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael-----

(Interruptions).

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith -----shoving their agenda down the mouths of the people of this country.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Withdraw that.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith The Leas-Cheann Comhairle herself said the people of Ireland are watching this. It will be watched over and over again and will be seen for the shambolic process it is, whereby a majority Government is trying to silence the Opposition. The Opposition has bent over backwards at the Dáil reform committee and Business Committee meetings to make compromises and propose amendments and compromise motions, and at every hand's turn they were rejected. That is why this will appear to the people of Ireland to be the worst outcome of the general election of 2020. They have the Blueshirts and Fianna Fáil in a dictatorship.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe This is disgraceful.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Withdraw that.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly What is disgraceful is the behaviour in the Chamber. I now call Deputy Shortall. I have indicated and have given a ruling that I will take a brief contribution from each group. Then I will proceed to put the motion to a vote.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall It is a well-established convention of the House that all parties have an opportunity, in order of their size, to speak on legislation or statements in the first round. We are merely seeking to ensure that that convention be continued. It is very disappointing to see the new Government, in one of its earliest moves regarding the business of the House, seek to dispense with that convention. This is not about denying Government backbenchers time to speak. They can have all the time they want to speak on legislation and statements. All we are asking is that we retain the order in which all parties have an opportunity to come in on the first round. It is a reasonable request that we stick with that convention, and there is no basis for the Government to deny that. It is fundamentally undemocratic to do so. What the Government is proposing is that the Social Democrats and the Labour Party, for example, which have exactly the same number of seats each, should be split in terms of that entitlement. Under the Government's proposals, the Labour Party can continue in its position in this regard but, for some unknown reason, the Social Democrats must drop down further in the queue. There is no logic to that. There is no defence for it. We have the same number of seats as the Labour Party and we should be treated equally. All we are requesting is that we continue with what was a very successful and harmonious system from the previous Dáil. That is all.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I am taking one speaker from each group. I call Deputy Duncan Smith.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I have asked repeatedly for Members' co-operation. I have made a ruling. I have asked for one speaker from each group, and that is what I am attempting to facilitate now, with the House's co-operation. I ask Members to show a little respect. I ask Deputy Smith to be brief and to the point.

Deputy Duncan Smith: Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith Speaking on behalf of the Labour Party, which with the vagaries of this proposal from Government would benefit more than the smaller parties, we opposed this at the Dáil reform committee meeting. We spent nearly three hours in the Business Committee coming up with composite proposals, which all came from this side of the House. They were very reasonable proposals. I ask the Government at this very late stage to withdraw this proposal. Not only will it create the rancour we are seeing tonight, but this will happen every single day because of what the Government is doing tonight. We have a Business Committee that has worked very well for four years. It has worked on the basis of consensus. We have had good politics because of it. We can continue with that. There is no reason for this proposal. There are very sensible, very reasonable proposals coming from this side of the House. Proportionality would be maintained and the scheduling would be according to the regular convention we have always had. This is absolutely outrageous. The Business Committee may as well not exist, Dáil reform may as well not exist, and we will go back 20 years because of this.

Deputy Jack Chambers: Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers The Deputy supported the proposal at the Business Committee.

Deputy Duncan Smith: Information on Duncan Smith Zoom on Duncan Smith I did not.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I will take one speaker from the Regional Group of Independents.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín Speaking on my own behalf-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly No. Members are not to speak on their own behalf. I am taking one member from each group.

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín Accountability is an extremely important part of any democracy. If this country has suffered in the past, it is because of lack of accountability. The Government has all the cards in its hands. It has its offices and the human resources to be able to push through so much of its political agenda. One of the major elements of accountability is the ability of Opposition parties, especially smaller ones operating on fresh air in most cases, to hold the Government to account. Pushing our voices into the graveyard shift simply reduces our ability to hold the Government to account. This is simply about accountability, and it is absolutely ridiculous that the Government is looking to push our voices later and later in debates.

Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for allowing somebody from the Government to speak. What we have seen for the past hour or two is exactly what has been wrong for too long: very small parties that get very few votes in elections dominating the Chamber, and members of Government parties and other larger parties that get hundreds of thousands of votes not being allowed even to speak, or being expected to wait until the very end until they are allowed to speak. I do not usually intervene on procedural issues such as this but I know this will be heard-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath This proposal is beneath the Tánaiste.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar It is not beneath me.


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