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septic tanks

TD kicked out of committee meeting after accusing Phil Hogan of 'lies'

Mattie McGrath – who isn’t even a member of the Oireachtas environment committee – was ordered out by the chairman.

INDEPENDENT TD Mattie McGrath has achieved the unusual distinction of being kicked out of a meeting of an Oireachtas committee for which he is not a member.

The Tipperary South member was asked to leave a meeting of the Oireachtas environment committee by chairman Ciaran Lynch after accusing environment minister Phil Hogan, who was also present, of lying to the public.

McGrath – a vocal opponent of new laws requiring mandatory inspection of domestic septic tanks – said Hogan had misled the public by insisting that the registrations for tank inspections would begin on April 1 and that the €50 charge could not be removed.

McGrath said both statements had been proven untrue by the delay in the registration period – which Hogan said was officially beginning today – and the reduction in the registration fee from €50 to €5 for early registrants.

“I won’t call them lies, but I will call them untruths,” McGrath said, saying Hogan had engaged in a “deliberate confusion and blackguarding of public money” – before going on to use the word ‘lies’ anyway.

“I want those lies – I want that blackguarding, lies, corrected here today. That was lies we were told… It’s been a farce from start to finish,” he said.

Amid snipes from other members – including Noel Coonan from neighbouring Tipperary North, who said McGrath’s comments were a “pathetic effort” – chairman Ciaran Lynch attempted to restore order.

“I would ask you to be more temperate and more measured in your language,” Lynch said, asking McGrath to withdraw his use of the word ‘lies’, which is generally considered to be inappropriate language and an abuse of parliamentary privilege.

McGrath refused, saying Hogan’s Department had put out “total misinformation”.

“I’m an elected representative, I can’t put up with this charade,” he insisted, saying he could not – “in all my heart of hearts” – bring himself to withdraw his claim.

The meeting was suspended for several minutes while McGrath left the room, with Lynch resuming the meeting by asking those in attendance to “behave in an appropriate custom”, and asking non-members in particular to observe the usual rules.

McGrath is also one of only a handful of TDs to have been kicked out of a Dáil sitting, after being suspended from the House for a day last July after a row with the Ceann Comhairle.

Read: Registration for septic tank inspections may begin this month

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