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Shatter criticises Kelleher no-show for Friday Dáil debate

But the Fianna Fáil TD who had criticised the government over Friday sittings said he didn’t have to attend today’s Dáil debate and repeated his criticisms.

Alan Shatter (File photo)
Alan Shatter (File photo)
Image: Photocall Ireland

JUSTICE MINISTER ALAN Shatter has criticised Billy Kelleher after the Fianna Fáil TD did not attend a debate in the Dáil today having early criticised the process of Friday sittings.

The opposition party’s spokesperson on health told RTÉ Radio this morning that Dáil sittings on the first Friday of every month were “a meaningless, pointless episode” and criticised the government’s “window-dressing exercise” saying that no meaningful legislative business was being done.

However, Shatter hit back in the Dáil today: “We had on the airwaves this morning Deputy Kelleher of Fianna Fáil talking about this all being a sham, none of this was serious but he assured the nation that he was going to be present in the House for this important debate.

“Well, deputy (Dara) Calleary was here but he was the only representative of Fianna Fáil who was here,” Shatter said before adding: “If he [Kelleher] wants to make silly, political charges to get himself some personal headline perhaps he would do it on an issue that he intends to contribute to.”

The Minister went on to accuse Kelleher of undermining the government’s attempts to introduce reforms in Leinster House. Speaking to TheJournal.ie this evening the Cork North Central TD hit back and insisted that Dáil sittings on a Friday “are a sham”.

“He’s observant isn’t he?,” he said referring to Shatter. “I am surprised that he would reference me in particular but I’m delighted he’s so observant.”

Kelleher insisted that while he was in Leinster House today it was not for him to be present in the Dáil for a debate on an issue that did not fall within his health portfolio.

“I said I would be in Dublin. I am the spokesperson for health, it it was a justice bill. I don’t know why the Minister would expect spokespersons on other portfolios to be there.

“Friday sittings are a sham. There is no accountability by government, no vote on business on a Friday and there are very few ministers in the environment of Leinster House.

“It is a very important bill,” he said referring to proposed legislation before the Dáil today. “I was watching proceedings. Our spokespeople were represented there and I’m the spokesperson on health so it’s not for me to be present at every Dáil debate.”

He went on the criticise Shatter and his government colleagues, questioning why many of them had not been had been present “in the environment of Leinster House” on a Friday.

“Minister Shatter is accusing us of cheap politics. Well, he should look back at his role in opposition when he accused Fianna Fáil of setting up NAMA to protect builders and accused of protecting bankers. He is in government nearly a year, what has he actually done?” Kelleher added.

Earlier: Dáil sittings on a Friday are ‘a slap in the face of reform’ – Fianna Fail TD

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Hugh O'Connell

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