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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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TDs will be allowed to register their abstention on Dáil votes

Rather than vote Yes or No, a deputy will be able to officially abstain from a vote on a piece of legislation or a motion under changes likely to be implemented later this year.

Rather than turning green or red, lights would turn a different colour, possibly black, to signify an abstention from a vote.
Rather than turning green or red, lights would turn a different colour, possibly black, to signify an abstention from a vote.
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas TV

THE DÁIL CHAMBER is likely to be equipped with buttons that will allow TDs to officially register their abstention on a vote later this year.

The Dáil’s Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP) has discussed the introduction of an abstention button with party whips broadly open to the change.

The matter will now be discussed among the main political parties and the change will likely be introduced after the summer recess.

At the moment, a TD who abstains on a vote is recorded on Oireachtas record as being absent.

The change would introduce a third button that would allow them to register their abstention on a vote on a bill or a motion rather than vote Yes or No, or Tá or Níl as it is referred to in the Houses of the Oireachtas.

“We discussed it at CPP and agreed to go back to our own political parties to have a chat about the idea,” government chief whip Paul Kehoe said. “What it will mean is an extra button to abstain from a vote.”

Sinn Féin’s whip, Aengus Ó Snodaigh said it was a change that the whips had agreed on.

Kehoe said that it was an issue that had been discussed when he was in opposition and said there is nothing to record a TD abstaining on a vote meaning “you’re seen as being missing”.

The introduction of the abstention button would happen over the summer recess when the chamber would need to be equipped with a third button at each Dáil seat.

The last summer break saw large screens erected in the chamber to notify TDs of the amount of speaking time they have remaining in debates.

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Hugh O'Connell

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