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VIDEO: There was a HUGE row in the Dáil last night

“I did not come in here to do what your mother should have done and put manners on you.”

A SHOUTING MATCH broke out in the Dáil last night as TDs debated banded hour contracts.

The motion, put forward by Sinn Féin, called for workers to have the right to request increased hours and employers to have an obligation to consider this request.

lous 2 Louise O'Reilly

When Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly, a long-time trade union activist, took to the floor of the Dáil, she launched a scathing attack on Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

I very rarely find myself in a situation where I am speechless. I am speechless this evening listening to the nonsense coming from both sides of this house.

She described Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as “very best friends … who are going to come together to ensure that workers cannot have a contract that simply reflects the hours that they work”.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

“All I can say is I hope is either you have not read the legislation, you have not understood it or you are being quite mischievous and deliberately disingenuous,” O’Reilly said, adding that workers should be “very, very concerned over the people who are in government”.

Zero hours and low hours contracts wreck people’s lives, and good luck to you and fair play to you if nobody in your family will ever have to work under a low hours or a zero hours contract.

At this point, O’Reilly accused Fine Gael, in particular Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, and Fianna Fáil of “doing the bidding” for unscrupulous employers and told them to “collectively hang your head in shame”.

reaction Pat Breen and Mary Mitchell O'Connor react to Louise O'Reilly's comments

Niall Collins, Fianna Fáil’s jobs spokesperson, took exception to this, saying of Sinn Féin:

What have they done in the north of Ireland for workers? Nothing, where they’re in government, and they come in here and they cry crocodile tears.

O’Reilly hit back, telling him: “You can of course bring your message of workers’ rights, your new found message of workers’ rights, to the north … You should be ashamed of yourself and I’m not surprised coming from the party that cut the minimum wage. I am not one bit surprised.”

niall lou new Louise O'Reilly and Niall Collins

As things became more heated the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, tried to restore order, saying: “Please deputies, restrain yourselves.”

O’Reilly then said:

Deputy Collins, I did not come in here to do what your mother should have done and put manners on you. Will you please allow me to speak?

Collins’ reply was short: “The hypocrisy.”

Ó Fearghaíl stepped in once more, saying: “Both the minister and deputy are out of order, please give way to Deputy O’Reilly, who has the floor.” He then told O’Reilly:

Maybe if you were slightly less provocative we wouldn’t get this response.

To which she said: “Ceann Comhairle, unfortunately, I am moved to be such,” stating that she has spent years helping workers who have been “at the mercy of legislation” brought in by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

During the debate, Pat Breen, Minister of State for Employment and Small Business, said the government is committed to workers’ rights and will bring forward legislation to protect people on low-hour contracts.

He said Sinn Féin’s bill would have adverse effects on businesses, and didn’t strike a balance between the rights of workers and employers.

Read: ‘Sit down and grow up’: The Dáil just had its first big row since the general election

Read: ‘The pain and suffering is etched in my memory’: TD takes emotional stand during fatal foetal abnormalities debate

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Órla Ryan

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