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Here's why all of the opposition TDs walked out of the Dáil today...

Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and others held a press conference outside Leinster House after a dramatic walkout.

B8ccE7SIcAA-QMX Gerry Adams, Micheál Martin and opposition TDs outside Leinster House this afternoon Source: TheJournal.ie

OPPOSITION TDS WALKED out of the Dáil this afternoon after a row over the failure to hold a debate on the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into allegations of malpractice by some gardaí in the border area.

Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, independent and smaller party TDs walked out of the Dáil after a lengthy row during the Order of Business over a ruling from the Ceann Comhairle to forego debate on the terms of reference for the commission.

The deputies then held a joint press conference on the Leinster House plinth this afternoon, claiming the situation was unprecedented and unacceptable.

Both Gerry Adams and Micheál Martin described proceedings as “a farce”.
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The Commission of Investigation will examine allegations of malpractice in the Cavan-Monaghan Division of An Garda Síochána following the findings of a report by barrister Seán Guerin into claims made by the garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

Guerin’s damning report led to the resignation of justice minister Alan Shatter last May.

The Fine Gael TD has since lodged a High Court action to overturn some of the Guerin report’s findings.

Shatter’s letter

Some of today’s issues stemmed from a letter written by Shatter’s solicitors to the Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett last November.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil today that Shatter wrote to the Ceann Comhairle through his solicitors, Gallagher Shatter, last November to raise issues with plans to debate the terms of reference for the commission in the Dáil.

Barrett subsequently ruled that the motion to establish the commission could be moved without any debate. In a note to TDs last night, Barrett said that a debate could not be held as the “matter is currently sub judice”.

Micheál Martin and Gerry Adams both questioned Barrett’s decision in the Dáil today. Martin pointed out that the matter was not before a jury therefore it could not be sub judice.

He said that Barrett’s ruling “essentially muzzles this house” and said that the emergence of correspondence from Shatter had come “at the eleventh hour”.

Government happy to debate

Outlining the position of the Ceann Comhairle, who was not present in the house, Enda Kenny told the Dáil the government was “happy to have a debate” but said that Barrett is “utterly independent” and had made his ruling.

Opposition protests could not prevent a vote being called by Leas Ceann Comhairle Micheál Kitt.

This prompted the opposition to stage a walkout.

dail walkout Opposition TDs walkout of the Dáil this afternoon Source: Oireachtas TV

As a result the motion to establish the Commission of Investigation passed unanimously.

On the plinth, independent TD Mick Wallace claimed that he had asked the Taoiseach in the Dáil yesterday whether correspondence from Shatter’s solicitor had resulted in the debate being pulled.

He said that Kenny and justice minister Frances Fitzgerald “gave us impression that there was no correspondence”. 

A senior government source denied this impression had been given.

They insisted this afternoon that the Taoiseach had disclosed the Shatter correspondence when asked about the matter during today’s Order of Business.

They added that the terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation were exactly as Guerin has recommended they should be.

Originally published 3.38pm

Read: Dysfunctional garda district at the heart of Guerin Report to face detailed probe

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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