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Dáil over: TDs finish early for the week after ‘opposition fail to show’

Day’s over…

The Dáil returns next week
The Dáil returns next week
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas TV

Updated 4.35pm

THE DÁIL ADJOURNED over two-and-a-half hours earlier than planned this afternoon leaving the government accusing the opposition parties of having failed to show-up for debate on four stages of the bill to redraw the European Parliament constituency boundaries.

The Parliament Elections Amendment Bill – which redraws Ireland’s European constituencies in light of the loss of one seat in the Brussels parliament – passed through four stages in the Dáil without a vote or a single member of the opposition present in the chamber.

After the bill passed without a vote, Fine Gael TD Derek Keating asked where the opposition is, but was told by Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett that there was no way of raising such an issue on a point of order.

This led Keating to suggest that maybe there should be a way of raising the matter. “Maybe so,” Barrett agreed.

A spokesperson for the Technical Group took issue with the government’s characterisation of the issue, saying the coalition parties had failed to fill their own speaking slots, meaning if opposition had shown they would be “speaking into a vacuum”.

“We’ve said on a number of occasions we’re not going to keep the show on the road for the sake of it. The government, with a two-thirds majority, were unable to provide speakers for their speaking slots,” the spokesperson said.

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As a result of the early finish on that bill, deputies were able to run through the rest of their business for the day and the week, adjourning until next Tuesday afternoon just before 3pm today. The sitting had originally been scheduled to run until 5.30pm.

Afterward’s Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan said: “This is an important piece of legislation dealing with the redrawing of constituencies for the upcoming European elections, yet not one member of the Opposition saw fit to show up.”

He accused the opposition parties of “hypocrisy” over their complaints about the government’s use of the guillotine when he said “the opposition benches are left completely empty for debates on important pieces of legislation”.

Opposition parties have regularly complained about the government’s use of the guillotine on other legislation with all but a few non-government deputies staging a walkout last December when ministers proposed to curtail debate on the bill to establish Irish Water.

Note: This story has been amended to include comment from a Technical Group spokesperson.

First published 3.43pm

WATCH: Fianna Fáil lead Dáil walkout after row over water services legislation

Read: Absent TDs and unanswered
questions leave Micheál Martin criticising Dáil reforms

‘The elephant in the room’: Government’s Dáil reforms do little to appease opposition

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Hugh O'Connell

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