FINE GAEL TD Michelle Mulherin is leading the charge in calling for a dress code for the Dáil.
She raised the matter in at the Fine Gael parliamentary party on Wednesday evening.
Mulherin told TheJournal.ie that she’s not alone in thinking that the way some deputies dress is not fitting for Leinster House.
She said she understands that there may be a humorous or light-hearted element to the discussion, but that ultimately TDs are on a national and international stage.
The TD admitted that there are days when she feels like coming to work in a tracksuit, but she knows it’s not appropriate.
“I would find it hard to believe that people don’t know what appropriate dress is”
Mulherin said that she feels that jeans, t-shirts and runners are not acceptable for a “solemn place” like a house of parliament. She said that as lawmakers, the Dáil should be setting an example for people who are obliged to obey the laws.
She also said that many of the ‘underdressed’ deputies she’s referring to are the same ones who feel it’s ok to “break laws” and to tell the public not to pay the household charge. She said it’s time for a “reality check” for those in a leadership position.
We are elected by the people and dressing appropriately is an acknowledgement that we’re servants of the people… Self-expression in the Dáil should be of a verbal type in my opinion.
Mulherin said that there has been a “groundswell of support” for a Dáil dress code, and that the matter will be debated again at next week’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting.
The Mayo TD said that the catalyst for raising this issue again was the fact that she’s aware of it being raised on a daily basis and she felt she couldn’t disagree with such a motion being tabled.
Last July the Ceann Comhairle urged the Taoiseach not to shelve proposals for Dáil rules on a dress code. It came after plans for the code were scrapped after being criticised by a number of TDs, with Richard Boyd Barrett telling TheJournal.ie that it was “pathetic” and that it “shows we have a government of clowns”.
The current ‘code’ recommends that “members should dress in a manner that reflects the dignity of the house” while a fact sheet on the role and work of Oireachtas Committees updated in January states that:
The established practice is that Members, staff and visitors to the Houses of the Oireachtas should wear business attire or similar clothing in keeping with the status of Parliament.