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FF leader asks Dooley and Collins to step down from frontbench pending probe into Dáil votes

Michéal Martin said he spoke with the deputies this morning who both agreed to cooperate fully with the Ceann Comhairle’s inquiry.

Image: Rollingnews.ie

Updated Oct 20th 2019, 1:20 PM

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Michéal Martin has asked Timmy Dooley and Niall Collins to step down temporarily from their positions on the party’s frontbench.

Martin’s decision follows the admission that Collins voted on behalf of Dooley six times in the Dáil last Thursday. 

The Ceann Comhairle ordered a report into the incident yesterday after Dooley, a Clare TD, said that fellow party member Collins cast a number of votes for him while he was absent from the Dáil chamber. 

Speaking to reporters following a Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown, Martin said he spoke with the deputies this morning who both agreed to cooperate fully with the Ceann Comhairle’s inquiry. 

I  don’t think it’s acceptable. I agree with the Ceann Comhairle that the integrity of the voting situation in Dáil Éireann is of the utmost importance, must be protected, and must be respected at all times. 

“I spoke to both deputies this morning and I’ve asked them, without prejudice and pending the outcome of the report that the Ceann Comhairle has initiated into this, that they would step down from the Fianna Fáil frontbench,” Martin said, adding that his decision underlines “the seriousness with which I take this issue”. 

Fianna Fáil’s deputy leader Dara Calleary said that the fact that Timmy Dooley had votes recorded despite him being absent from the Dáil was “unusual”. 

Speaking on a special Brexit edition of the RTÉ Radio One Morning Ireland programme, Calleary said that he “welcomes” the fact that the matter will be investigated by the Ceann Comhairle. 

“The integrity of the voting system within the Dáil is hugely important,” he said. 

Dooley said Limerick TD Niall Collins pushed his voting button on his behalf as he believed Dooley was still in the chamber. 

Dooley has faced significant cross-party criticism, with Fine Gael TD Noel Rock describing the incident as “very worrying”

Asked whether the matter may end up in the Dáil Committee on Procedure, Calleary said that he thinks “that may be the avenue where the Ceann Comhairle decides to go”. 

Calleary also said that he was happy to discuss redoing the vote in the Dáil. 

“If someone wants to re-run the votes, I don’t see why not,” he said. 

- With reporting from Adam Daly 

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