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WE’VE HAD WEEKS of discussions about the prayer which has traditionally opened every session of Dáil Eireann with TDs being told they now must stand for it, before 30 seconds of silent reflection.

We were in the gallery today to find out if there would be protests, as well as to keep an eye on what issues would be raised by the Opposition benches.

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So, this was the scene during today’s prayer.

Richard Boyd-Barrett, Brid Smith, Mick Barry and Ruth Coppinger are all sitting down.

Coppinger then unfurled a sign that said ‘Separate Church and State’

Joan Collins also remained seated during the prayer.

No immediate disciplinary action was taken by the Ceann Comhairle.

Meanwhile, Leaders’ Questions got underway.

Micheál Martin brought up the “shocking” number of people waiting on hospital lists for procedures.

He said, amongst other things, that 10,000 children were waiting on appointments and that Waterford “needs serious attention”.

Enda Kenny, in response to his Fianna Fáil counterpart, said that his government has committed to a promise that no patient will be waiting more than 18 months for a day procedure.

Next up, Gerry Adams asks about a story printed in today’s Irish Times. Political reporter Sarah Bardon wrote that “testimony given by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan to a Dáil committee has been undermined by written records of a two-hour meeting at which financial irregularities at Templemore Garda College were discussed”.

Adams insisted that the Commissioner should no longer be in the top job.

The Taoiseach, however, repeated his confidence in O’Sullivan.

Adams also asks Kenny, “Have you and the Fianna Fáil leader discussed [the] issue [of Nóirin O'Sullivan's job]?”

Kenny’s response:

To be honest, the answer to your last question is no.

Richard Boyd-Barrett is now up and is discussing the latest Daft report which showed another jump in rent prices across the country.

He brings up an example of an apartment block in, formerly owned by Nama, in his constituency.

He says that at least 15 of the 52 Balally apartments in the property have been vacant since it was put into the bad-bank.

“In May of last year, Dun Laoighaire/Rathdown County Council asked could they purchase 15 of the vacant units. They were told they could only buy the whole block,” he continued.

Nama has since sold the block as part of Project Gem to vulture fund Cerebrus, Boyd-Barrett claimed.

“Since that deal went through, Cerberus has started to move to evict the tenants… Five of the 21 that I have met are to be evicted in June.

“Others have been told that they will have to pay another €250 a month in heating and hot water charges, previously included in rent. A back-door rent increase of 20%.”

Maureen O’Sullivan now has time to put her question to the Taoieach. She wants to talk about Moore Street.

She wants to know what the plans for the area are, claiming there have been years of indifference to the battlefield sites and the livelihoods of the street’s traders.

We actually visited Moore Street recently, and found some distressed workers.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

O’Sullivan appeals to Kenny’s love of cycling using an analogy about the momentum needed on a bike…

“…if you stop cycling, you’re eventually going to wobble and fall off,” she tells him, asking for Moore Street to be kept on the agenda.

PastedImage-81073 Source: Fine Gael/Flickr

That’s it for today. Just to recap on some of the key points of today’s Leaders’ Questions:

 

  • Six TDs did not stand during the Dáil prayer – but no disciplinary action was taken.
  • The Solidarity-PBP deputies also held up a sign that said, ‘Separate Church and State’
  • Enda Kenny said (again) that he had confidence in the Garda Commissioner. He also confirmed that he has not spoken to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin about Nóirín O’Sullivan.
  • The Taoiseach said the Cabinet approved the terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation into NAMA’s Project Eagle.
  • Richard Boyd-Barrett claimed that a vulture fund, Cerberus, which purchased an apartment block in his constituency has evicted some tenants and has increased charges for others.

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