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Dáil to sit today to discuss Covid-19 impacts on Ireland's economy

The Taoiseach will answer questions about the public health emergency.

Image: Sam Boal

THE DÁIL IS set to meet again today to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the Irish economy. 

A limited number of politicians will again attend the Dail from 12pm to 7.30pm where the Taoiseach will answer questions about Covid-19. 

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will make a statement on the economic outlook of the country. This comes after the minister announced this week that unemployment is to soar and GDP is expected to fall by 10.5%.

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Education Joe McHugh will also make statements today about the ongoing crisis. 

Social distancing restrictions are being adhered to in Leinster House, with a reduced number of politicians allowed in the chamber at any given time. 

While some ministers criticised TDs for calling for regular Dáil sittings, many have said that democracy must be respected and the caretaker government must be held accountable during the Covid-19 restrictions. 

While the unprecedented times have made it difficult for Dáil proceedings to carry on, other mechanisms have been considered, but ruled out. 

This week, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said in a letter to his fellow Oireachtas members that a number of them had been in contact to see if it was possible for the Dáil or Oireachtas committees to meet virtually, via the internet from their homes, their offices or other locations outside the physical confines of the Houses of the Oireachtas. 

In the UK, the House of Commons met virtually yesterday. In Spain, its parliament has the technology to allow remote voting with members not in the house.

The Business Committee at Leinster House considered the legal advice from chief parliamentary legal advisor Shane Murphy SC.

His advice was that a virtual parliament “would not conform with the requirements of Article 15 of the Constitution”. 

The Convention Centre was recently selected by the Business Committee to be used for sittings where all 160 TDs should be present. The location will be used for a vote for the next Taoiseach, as all members of the House will need to be present. 

It will cost €50,000 each day the Dáil sits at the Convention Centre.

In the meantime, Leinster House will continue to be used for sittings with “restricted” attendance, Ó Fearghaíl added.

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