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Dáil report shows 'pixie hats and turtleneck jumpers' unacceptable dress for foreign parliaments

The Dáil Committee on Procedure is set to discuss the matter of a Dáil dress code in private session this evening.

repeal

Updated 14.00

THE DÁIL COMMITTEE ON procedure is to meet this evening in private to discuss the possibility of introducing a dress code for Leinster House.

It’s understood the meeting stems from a number of complaints being made to Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail regarding the standard of dress maintained by Oireachtas members.

However, it’s believed that many of the complaints received have been in relation to TDs making statements via their dress, as opposed to the manner in which they were dressed, such as in the case last September when six members of what was then AAA-PBP wore ‘Repeal’ jumpers during a sitting of Dáil Éireann.

Last October, O Fearghaíl told the Dail Committee that the attire of parliamentarians is a source of constant complaint from members of the public.

“What someone likes or chooses to wear is subjective. There are hundreds of parliaments around the world. For example, in Papua New Guinea’s parliament, they hardly wear anything,” said committee member and Solidarity TD Bríd Smith at the time.

Citing a then-mooted report on such codes in other countries, Smith said that to research what other parliamentarians wear around the world would serve no purpose, and that the dress code in some countries would not be the same as in western Europe. “It’s ridiculous, it’s entirely subjective,” she added.

Two reports (both seen by TheJournal.ie) have now been completed and are set to be delivered to committee members at this evening’s meeting – one concerning dress codes in 40 parliaments worldwide, the other dealing with “emblems, badges, and clothing with slogans”.

16 of the parliaments looked at, including Portugal, have no specific dress code.

Some examples of rules to be obeyed in foreign parliaments include:

  • In Denmark, bathing shorts, pixie hats, and shirts with political statements are deemed “not appropriate”
  • Ascots and turtleneck jumpers are considered inappropriate in Canada
  • The naked torso is a no-no in the parliament of Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Jeans and sports clothes are not allowed in France
  • In Switzerland, female elected representatives are expected to cover their shoulders

shutterstock_189525113 Canadian parliament has declared war on the turtleneck jumper Source: Shutterstock/Khvost

As regards rules against emblems or slogans, a category into which the aforementioned Repeal jumpers would presumably fall:

  • Germany has banned all clothing promoting “for all to see” political, commercial or religious messages from the Bundestag
  • In Hungary it is forbidden to wear or display symbols of totalitarianism
  • New Zealand’s parliament deems as “not acceptable” the wearing of a hat “with advertising or a message written on it”

At present, Dáil rules specify merely that deputies attending should “dress in a manner which reflects the dignity and decorum of the House”.

90430488_90430488 Solidarity TDs Paul Murphy and Bríd Smith Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

“I think the rules as they stand are absolutely fine,” Solidarity-PBP TD Paul Murphy told TheJournal.ie when asked about the pending committee debate.

“People are free to elect whoever they want – they can elect someone who wears suits every day, or they can elect someone who doesn’t. But people wearing suits doesn’t improve their performance – we know that both from the history of our own parliament and that of others.”

Wherever this is coming from it’s an attempt to censor Dáil views and opinions expressed not just in words, but also in the likes of the Repeal jumpers. If people don’t like their elected representatives dressing in that manner well then they don’t have to vote for it.

“Society is changing, even what people wear to work has changed drastically in the last 20 years,” said Murphy, adding that he couldn’t see the dress code idea “gaining traction” in the Dáil given the perceived weakness of the current minority government.

The issue of a dress code in Dáil Éireann has bounced into the headlines intermittently over the past six years, with the previous Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett also being in favour of introducing a specific code. However such an introduction has been repeatedly thwarted.

Should a code be implemented, penalties for TDs who contravene it could include not being invited to speak during debates, enforced party discipline, or possible suspension from the house.

Read: ‘Examining the dress code of other parliaments is ridiculous’

Read: Some British newspapers had a different perspective on the death of Martin McGuinness

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