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Ceann Comhairle: 'Parliament has to be independent of Government'

The leader of the Dáil was speaking after a week in which he surprised many, including the government, by allowing members of the Reform Alliance and former Labour parliamentary party TDs speaking time during Dáil debates.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett speaking to RTÉ
Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett speaking to RTÉ
Image: Screengrab via RTÉ

CEANN COMHAIRLE SEÁN Barrett has said that granting limited speaking rights to TDs who have been expelled from their parliamentary party was about “upholding a principle that all TDs have a right to speak in the parliament”.

The leader of the Dáil was speaking to RTÉ’s The Week in Politics after a week in which he surprised many, including the government, by allowing members of the Reform Alliance and former Labour parliamentary party TDs speaking time during Dáil debates.

Explaining his decision, Barrett told the programme: “There’s a growing number of people who are not aligned to political parties now in the Dáil and I found it necessary to make certain that we needed a structure where they would have their rights to speak.”

The Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP) now meets this Wednesday to consider whether the expelled TDs can join the Technical Group to gain further speaking time and committee membership.

Barrett told RTÉ that he would like the CPP to be consulted more often, saying: “Parliament has to be independent of Government.”

Dáil Standing Orders currently prevent TDs who have been expelled from their parliamentary parties from joining the Technical Group.

But as TheJournal.ie reported on Saturday, the government is now of the view that if a TD mounts a legal challenge to a refusal to allow them membership of the Technical Group they would be able to join it.

However the group’s whip Catherine Murphy said such an arrangement involving over two dozen independent TDs would be difficult to manage this with the “slim-pickings” already afford to the Technical Group in terms of staff and resources.

In any case several expelled TDs including members of the Reform Alliance of ex-Fine Gael parliamentary party members have indicated they would not be interested in joining the group.

Read: Can expelled TDs join the Dáil Technical Group? Here’s why it’s ‘as clear as mud’

Read: Reform Alliance members want appointments to Oireachtas committees

More: ‘Exiled’ party members granted speaking rights in Dáil

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Hugh O'Connell

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