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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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An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Please allow the Tánaiste to speak.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am embarrassed to be a Member of this Chamber tonight because of the behaviour from some of the parties here. I want people at home to listen to the number of times I am going to be interrupted when I try to say a few words in this Chamber because of the arrogance, nastiness and abusiveness of some of the smaller parties and the far-left parties in this House who try to dominate this Chamber. Anytime anyone from Government stands up, a Minister tries to speak or a backbencher tries to make a point, they shout us down in the same way they bully people online.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Tánaiste, please.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Day in and day out they bully people in the Chamber because they come from a larger party or a Government party. I want the people at home tonight and the people who will listen to this on the radio tomorrow morning to know that what we have here is a new set of procedures, which will still give the Opposition parties 74% of the speaking time, even though they have less than half the seats. If there is anyone who should be complaining, it is the Government parties. We have more than half of the votes, we have more than half of the seats and we are only getting about 25% of the speaking time. They are getting a disproportionate share of the speaking time. We are the ones who should be grandstanding, not them. In terms of the order in which people speak, surely it makes sense that the largest parties that got hundreds of thousands of votes, should come in before those that got one, two or three percent. Surely that is fairness and democracy and that is all we are trying to restore here.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I thank the Tánaiste and call Deputy Mattie McGrath on behalf of the Rural Independents.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I remind the Tánaiste that he is depending on a small party, which was in opposition recently, to stay in government. He has 11 of that party now - one gone and more to go. That is the way it is now, sadly. We take no lecturing from the Tánaiste about that.

There was a convention that worked well in the previous Dáil. We have had 32 meetings of the Business Committee in this Dáil so far and they have all been civil and they have worked very well. We have always worked things out without ever having a vote of the Business Committee, I think. What we see here is - and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle knows - that the Government backbenchers do not turn up for their time and they collapse the debates. This is a three-card trick. Put them all in first, they will not turn up for the debates and the legislation will fall and be closed down.

This is an attempt to muzzle the Opposition. I am not from a far-left party at all or anything like it. We want fairness and equality. We represent the people of rural Ireland and they need to be heard. The Government pushed through a Bill here earlier to support the vulture funds. That is who the Government represents. We represent the ordinary people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I thank the Deputy and call Deputy Mac Lochlainn for Sinn Féin.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Zoom on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn For weeks the various political parties and groupings on the Dáil reform committee and Business Committee have debated the issue of proportional speaking, dealt with the issue of committee formation and a range of other issues to try to make this place work for everybody and be fair to everybody. The secretariat brought forward proposals a number of weeks ago relating to modelling for proportionality to be fair to everybody. Those proposals were not accepted and we had Government proposals as we come to the end of this Dáil term.

What has happened here tonight is deeply regrettable. Our party put forward a proposal to the Business Committee today to try to find a compromise between the legitimate requests for all of the Deputies to have an equal opportunity to speak in this Chamber. No matter what party one comes from, as a Teachta Dála for one's constituency, one has an equal right to have a say in this Chamber. We put forward a proposal that sought to strike a balance between that legitimate view and the current running order in place for Second Stage and Statements. We put that compromise proposal to the Business Committee today and, unfortunately, we have come to this.

What I was trying to do earlier was make a point of order to point that we have tabled an amendment to this motion, which is the compromise proposal from earlier. The smaller parties, in fairness, have also come forward with compromise proposals in their amendments. What has happened here tonight is deeply regrettable and it does not reflect well on any of us. We could have resolved it today at the Business Committee. I am sorry to be in this place and I hope that, when we come back in September, we can reflect on the need for all voices to be heard and for proportional speaking opportunities. I make the appeal at the eleventh hour to the Government to consider the amendments to the motion and to allow us to proceed on that basis.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I think the last speaker is Deputy McNamara.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Sorry, I did not see the Minister of State, Deputy Fleming's, hand. I will come back to him.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara If he wishes to proceed before me, I do not have a problem

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Does the Minister of State wish to proceed? No. I call Deputy McNamara.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara Standing Order 67, states: "A motion to rescind or amend a Resolution, other than a Resolution relating to an adjournment of the Dáil or to Standing Orders, can only be made on notice that shall specify the Resolution to be rescinded or amended." Is this a resolution to amend Standing Orders and, if it is, is it not clear from the Standing Orders that it does not require to be on notice? I have also asked if I can put an amendment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly As I understand it, this is a straightforward business proposal in relation to how business is being done.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara It is a resolution of the House. Does it not affect the Standing Orders?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Please, the Deputy asked me a question and I am answering him. It is a straightforward proposal in relation to the business of the House. I call the Minister of State, Deputy Fleming.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Sean Fleming): Information on Sean Fleming Zoom on Sean Fleming I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. It is very straightforward. The people of Ireland elected 160 Deputies to Dáil Éireann some months ago. Every one of us comes in with an equal mandate. Can the democratically elected Members please be allowed to vote?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly I thank the Deputy. I think everybody has had a contribution. I apologise to Deputy Michael Healy-Rae but we allowed one speaker from each group. At this point, having made a decision on that, I am obliged once again to put the question.


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