Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Tuesday 28 March 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Leah Farrell Former Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry.
# Leinster House
Marc MacSharry compares Ireland to 'Marxist Republic' after claiming Oireachtas staffer opened his post
The saga began when MacSharry tried to circulate a report on the impact of Covid-19 on mental health last July.

A FORMER FIANNA Fáil TD said he had to spend €440 in taxpayers’ money to post a copy of a research report to other politicians after being told he could not circulate it through Leinster House’s internal post.

Deputy Marc MacSharry also claimed at least one of the letters sent had later been opened by Oireachtas staff and that Ireland was “deteriorating into a Marxist Republic” in an email to the Ceann Comhairle.

The saga began last July when MacSharry was trying to distribute a copy of a report he and his staff had authored on the impact of Covid-19 on mental health.

He said the work had taken six months to complete and that he had hoped to have a copy of it sent to every member of the Oireachtas.

However, after bringing the reports to Leinster House, he was told that such material could not be freely distributed without the permission of individual party whips.

In his letter to the Ceann Comhairle, he said: “I thought how ridiculous is that? Naturally, I would expect a code of conduct to prevent unscrupulous members seeking to raise money or sell tickets by way of the internal mailing system.

“But when it’s important research I thought in the interest of basic common sense, and the reality that those elected here have an actual mandate that maybe we might be allowed share research on mental health. Clearly not!”

He said it would have taken far too long to contact all the individual whips including representatives for “god knows how many other pop-up de facto parties”.

MacSharry then detailed how he had gone to his office and affixed prepaid postage stamps from Leinster House stationary onto his “plain A4 envelopes”.

He said this had probably cost the taxpayer around €440 in postage, not to mention the costs involved in having the letters brought to a mailing centre, only to be immediately returned to Leinster House.

MacSharry then said not to be “outdone by yesterday’s stupidity”, he discovered a green crate full of his letters at the enquiries reception of the building the following day.

He said they had not been distributed and wrote that he could see “one of them at least had been opened”.

When he asked an usher about this, MacSharry said he was told: “No we have not opened any of them YET [his emphasis] Deputy, we have to wait for the head usher.”

MacSharry said he had been 19 years in the Oireachtas and had witnessed first-hand the “deterioration of the standing and treatment of members”.

He wrote: “The fact that our post is now being pre-read and subject to an approval process… to determine whether it can be delivered is a serious cause for concern to me.

Sadly, I have believed for some time that as a nation we are well on our way to deteriorating into a Marxist Republic and now when one considers that members’ correspondence to other members must be subject [to] an approval process by Houses of the Oireachtas staff without my knowledge not to mention the wider nonsense described above is truly alarming.

In a concluding note, MacSharry said if the matter was not resolved, he would seek legal advice or share details of his claims with the media.

The Ceann Comhairle’s response

Within an hour, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl responded to say he had read the letter with “surprise and anger”.

He said politicians should be facilitated to circulate correspondence to fellow members and that he was “appalled” at any suggestion that mail had been opened.

“It is not necessary for you to threaten the media on me as this is a matter I am happy to deal with,” wrote the Ceann Comhairle.

In another email later that day, Ó Fearghaíl confirmed there was a policy in place around circulation of post internally but that he felt it should be re-examined.

The Ceann Comhairle also said that there had been a delay to post that day and that he regretted any convenience.

Ó Fearghaíl added: “It has also been confirmed by the Superintendent that ushers do not open any post delivered and that they treat post, and all communications, with utmost confidentiality.”

Asked about the records, an Oireachtas spokeswoman said there was no procedure in place for post to be opened.

She said: “The Houses of the Oireachtas Commission has not made any change to the current system and protocol for the management of internal post of members.”

MacSharry said: “I got the research paper printed, and even bought blank envelopes, so I could put it in pigeonholes for my colleagues. So, they told me I had to post it.

The next day, there they were sitting in a big crate. One of them on the top had been opened. I remain unhappy about the whole process and how members of the Oireachtas are subservient to process and procedures that are wrong.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel