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On their first day back TDs had a row and Enda opened a newsroom

A long and eventful day in Leinster House.

Updated 8.50pm 

THE DÁIL RESUMED after its summer break this afternoon and it didn’t take long for the chamber to descend into shouting and roaring.

As the government proposed to debate a motion of confidence it itself, the Taoiseach and the Attorney General in the wake of the Fennelly report, opposition politicians kicked up a stink.

On an at times bizarre first day back, Enda Kenny dropped a big hint about the date of the election, was staunchly (and loudly) defended by one of his ministers, and controversially opened a newsroom.

This afternoon, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin was particularly annoyed, saying the way business had been ordered by the government had shown “utter contempt” for the house.

He was particularly put out that there is no Order of Business today and that Leaders’ Question had been moved to the much later time of 7.30pm this evening. (In fact it didn’t take place until after 8pm.)

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Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams used the opportunity to ask the government to call an election immediately, saying the coalition is on “its last legs”.

Speaking for the Technical Group, Socialist TD Joe Higgins called for the amount of time devoted to the confidence motion debate – three hours – to be doubled.

He also hit out at Labour’s senior leaders claiming they are socialists:

Government chief whip Paul Kehoe insisted that a confidence motion always takes precedence over any other business in the Dáil. He pointed out that his had been the case when Martin was part of the last government.

But the Fianna Fáil leader wasn’t finished yet.

He took to his feet to ask why the Tánaiste, as deputy head of government, wasn’t speaking and, again, why Leaders’ Question could not be held earlier in the day.

“You want to shut down this house,” he claimed.

At this stage there was a lot of shouting from the government benches, prompting Martin to do a sort of ‘come at me, bro’ gesture:

come at me

Then Adams was up on his feet again to deliver perhaps the most appropriate remark of the day:

I think we should proceed, this has become another bout of Punch and Judy.

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A vote was called – which the government won – and a three-hour debate on the Fennelly report followed. The confidence motion was eventually passed by 94 votes to 52.

Martin was still angry when Leaders’ Questions got underway just after 8.20pm.

He noted that the delay was due to the Taoiseach attending the opening of Independent News and Media’s new newsroom.

The Fianna Fáil leader again tried to probe the Fennelly issue.

He asked Kenny if he agreed with the evidence former tánaiste Eamon Gilmore gave to the commission which appeared to contradict the Taoiseach’s.

Martin accused Kenny of not telling the truth on the issue prompting the Fine Gael leader to hit back with this:

The back-and-forth yielded very little new, before the Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett dryly noted:

It’s not a good idea to have Leaders’ Questions at half-eight at night, that’s all I’ll say.

Read: Micheál Martin says a gun was put to Martin Callinan’s head

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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