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Dáil suspended after argument breaks over ‘undemocratic’ money message veto

More than 50 opposition bills have been blocked, despite having majority support in the Dáil chamber.

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith (left) addresses a demonstration at the site of a proposed new high rise hotel on Vicar Street in Dublin.
People Before Profit TD Brid Smith (left) addresses a demonstration at the site of a proposed new high rise hotel on Vicar Street in Dublin.
Image: PA Images

Updated Nov 5th 2019, 3:46 PM

THE DÁIL WAS suspended for ten minutes this afternoon after an argument broke out with the Ceann Comhairle who refused to allow a motion to proceed by Solidarity-People Before Profit TDs.

The motion, which seeks to unblock the veto over what is termed the “money message”, was not placed on the schedule for today’s Dáil debates.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail refused to allow a motion, which seeks to change the standing orders or rules of the House, citing concerns about its constitutionality.

More than 50 bills put forward by the opposition have been blocked because of the government’s “undemocratic” veto, known as a money message.

A money message is required by government in order for a bill to proceed.

Solidarity-PBP TDs put forward the motion to remove the government’s ability to block a bill on the basis of potential incidental expenses and costs.

The TDs want the rules changed so that 30 opposition bills currently stuck in limbo because of the government’s use of the money message can proceed.

“Sabotage of the democratic process,” TD Richard Boyd Barrett dubbed the matter this afternoon.

He argued that the House makes its own rules, and stated that the chair did not have the right to judge what is unconstitutional.

The Ceann Comhairle said the motion would bring the Dáil’s standing orders in conflict with the Constitution, and would allow bills to proceed that were conflict with the Constitution. He added that the clerk of the Dail as well as parliamentary legal advisors have advised on the matter.

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin said he had some sympathy with Boyd Barrett’s position, adding that the government consistently abuses the money message mechanism “to prevent good legislation getting through the House”. He said this government has abused money messages to stall legislation.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said it was “astonishing” that Solidarity-PBP scheduled their motion on money messages 11 days ago, but only learned yesterday that it was ruled out-of-order.

Boyd Barrett, as well as TDs Bríd Smith and Paul Murphy continued to argue with the Ceann Comhairle over the matter.

“I’m not prepared to be bullied,” said the Ceann Comhairle. Due to the disquiet in the Dáil, he adjourned the House for ten minutes.

At a press conference in Dublin yesterday, Solidarity People Before Profit TDs said, while this is constitutional, some bills put forward by opposition TDs are being blocked by the government on frivolous grounds.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said all too often, a bill receives an overwhelming majority “only to veto it on very vague, very undefined cost grounds”.

Rise TD Paul Murphy said no matter what bills opposition party TDs put forward or how much support it gets “it does not make any difference”.

“The most blatant example is the abuse by the government of the ’money message’ procedure, which they have used to block over 50 Bills, despite them being voted for by a majority in the Dail,” he said.

You can put forward, motions, saying many things have passed, and it doesn’t matter because the government just ignores it.

Murphy said the government has used its “executive veto” to ignore the will of the majority of the Dáil on issues such as the sex education bill and the climate emergency bill which had popular support.

With reporting by Press Association

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