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PBP's Richard Boyd Barrett, Bríd Smith, and Paul Murphy calling on Séan Fleming to withdraw his remark in the Dáil
Dáil row

Dáil suspended after Fianna Fáil TD appears to accuse People Before Profit of being 'Putin's puppets'

The remark by Seán Fleming, a Minister of State in the Department of Foreign Affairs, came during a Private Members’ motion and the Triple Lock.

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THE DÁIL WAS briefly suspended today after Fianna Fáil TD Seán Fleming appeared to accuse People Before Profit TDs of being “puppets” of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The remark by Fleming, a Minister of State in the Department of Foreign Affairs, came during a Private Members’ motion on neutrality and the “Triple Lock”.

Last month, Tánaiste Micheál Martin received Government approval to draft legislation to get rid of the triple lock and this morning’s motion, tabled by People Before Profit, called on the Government to withdraw these plans.

The Triple Lock is a mechanism that sets out the conditions under which more than 12 Irish troops may participate in overseas peace support operations.

For troops to take part, the operation must be mandated by the United Nations, approved by the Government, and also approved by Dáil Éireann.

PBP TD Bríd Smith claimed the legislation to get rid of the Triple Lock is an effort to “send Irish troops to wars at the beck and call of the US and the European Union”.

She added: “The plain reality is that you want to remove the Triple Lock because you want to move from a sideline substitute in US imperialism to a full player, that is what you want, and you want to send Irish troops abroad to fight wars on their behalf and on behalf of the European Union.”

Later in the debate, Fianna Fáil’s Seán Fleming remarked that there was “no discussion on this during the last General Election”.

Addressing the PBP TDs, Fleming then said: “I don’t know what planet you are living on? The world has changed since the last General Election.”

Fleming then referenced the ongoing war in Ukraine and added: “I have listened to Putin’s puppets over there today and this is an issue of Putin’s puppets versus the people of Ireland.”

Fleming also claimed that PBP are “on the wrong side of history”.

People Before Profit’s Paul Murphy then intervened but was told to “sit down” by acting chair Michael Ring.

Smith then called on Fleming to withdraw his remarks, but Fleming said that while he “did not direct my comment at any individual, if the hat fits, you should wear it”.

Murphy then said that it was against Oireachtas regulation to accuse a TD of taking orders from outside interests.

“That’s what Putin’s puppets means,” said Murphy, “it is very clear.”

Amid the commotion, Ring suspended the Dáil for five minutes.

When it resumed, Fleming was asked if he would withdraw or clarify his comments, and told the Dáil: “At least 15 members of the opposition have spoken, I didn’t refer to any one specific individual.

“If some members feel it relates to them, if the hat fits, they can wear it, but I didn’t put the hat on anyone here today.”

Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae was also upset at the comment and demanded he withdraw it, with Smith remarking that “all of us who have spoken this morning are liable to that accusation”.

Fleming eventually said he would withdraw the remark “as a result of some members feeling the comment was directed at them, which it wasn’t specifically.”

The Journal / YouTube

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said the PBP motion was “problematic” and that “modification to the Triple Lock does not impact in any way on our policy of military neutrality”.

He added: “By removing the power of the UN Security Council’s permanent members to veto our national sovereign decisions, it will mean that Ireland – militarily neutral – will no longer need to seek the permission of Russia, China, Britain, France, or the US to pursue our own sovereign, military neutral interests or to participate in peace-keeping missions.”

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