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Susan O'Keeffe would have got a better reaction 'if she said she was hungover'

The senator’s reason for missing a crucial vote on selection of members for the banking inquiry committee was criticised by some this week.

Senators O'Keeffe (background) and Bacik.
Senators O'Keeffe (background) and Bacik.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

SUSAN O’KEEFFE HAS been “unfairly scapegoated” for not being present at a vote to decide the composition of the Oireachtas banking inquiry.

That’s the view of fellow Labour senator Ivana Bacik.

Speaking on Radio 1′s Today with Seán O’Rourke, Bacik said that even if O’Keeffe was at the vote, there would not have been a government majority.

Clearly we should have adjourned the meeting, some of us looked for that at the time.

Bacik said she ”very much” regretted the situation that developed, whereby the government  had to add two senators - O’Keeffe and Fine Gael’s Michael D’Arcy - to the committee after if failed to oust Fianna Fáil senator Marc McSharry and gain a majority.

The move led to Enda Kenny being compared to Hitler and Independent TD Stephen Donnelly threatening to quit the committee.

The Taoiseach described the response of some senators as “hysterical”.

Bacik added that the committee of 11 TDs and senators now reflected the composition of the government and said the addition of members “exposes a lot of the messy compromises that have to be made in politics”.

O’Keeffe missed a crucial vote of the Seanad selection committee, saying her absence was due to the fact her daughter was starting her Leaving Certificate exams and she wanted to be there to support her. She noted that she had asked for that particular day off last September.

Finger pointing

Noting criticism O’Keeffe had received for her explanation, journalist Brenda Power said that she would have got a better reaction “if she said she was hungover”.

What non-psychopathic person would think that you’re not entitled to priortise your child?

Power went on to say that the government’s addition of two members to the committee showed that the inquiry was about “pointing the finger”.

You can only draw the conclusion that the only objective is to taint Fianna Fáil in the run up to the next General Election … It’s about pointing the finger … No one is going to go to jail, not a penny is going to be paid back.

McSharry said that the government’s actions yesterday were ”embarrassing and pathetic”and tantamount to ”gerrymandering”.

He went on to say that he had the “most parliamentary experience” of all of the committee’s members.

Related: Taoiseach compared to Hitler as government regains majority on banking inquiry

Background: Attempts to kick Fianna Fáil senator off banking inquiry fall flat

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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