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Ceann Comhairle orders 'urgent' probe after FF TD's Dáil votes recorded despite him being absent

Clare TD Timmy Dooley said a fellow party member cast a number of votes for him while he was absent from the Dáil chamber on Thursday.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated Oct 19th 2019, 4:26 PM

THE CEANN COMHAIRLE has ordered a report for his “urgent attention” after a Fianna Fáil frontbencher had votes recorded despite him being absent from the Dáil. 

Clare TD Timmy Dooley said a fellow party member cast a number of votes for him while he was absent from the Dáil chamber on Thursday. 

Dooley, the party’s communications spokesperson, said Limerick TD Niall Collins pushed his voting button on his behalf as he believed Dooley was still in the chamber. 

Ceann Comhairle Seán O’Fearghail said in a statement this evening that he has ordered a report on the conduct of the votes “for my urgent attention”, stating he has a duty to ensure that the public can have total confidence in the Dáil’s proceedings. 

“Further to media reports on votes in the Dáil last Thursday 17 October 2019, I have asked the Clerk of the Dáil to prepare a report on the conduct of the votes for my urgent attention,” he said.

The integrity of the voting system in Dáil Éireann is of the utmost importance. 

The Irish Independent reported this morning that video footage showed Dooley absent from his assigned seat when six votes were made in his name.  

Speaking to Clare FM this afternoon, Dooley explained that after the voting bell sounded he left to take a phone call, during that time Collins voted on his behalf. 

“I understand from my colleague Niall Collins, who was sitting beside my seat, that he pressed my voting button under the mistaken belief that I was at the back of the chamber on the phone,” Dooley said. 

The Fianna Fáil frontbencher said once he was made aware of the situation today, he contacted the Ceann Comhairle in an attempt to correct the Dáil record. 

I contacted him this morning and spoke with him and I have explained the situation, how the misunderstanding arose and to see if the record can be corrected.

‘Misunderstanding’

Criticising Dooley, Fine Gael TD Noel Rock said voting on legislation is one of the most important jobs a TD has. 

“Voting in the Dáil is very straightforward, as we are all assigned a seat from which we vote. The notion that any TD could be recorded as voting while absent from the chamber is very worrying,” he said. 

Dooley said the whole thing is a “misunderstanding” and as there were wide margins in the results his votes wouldn’t have swayed them. 

“There’s no material impact, but look, there was a misunderstanding and the record needs to be corrected,” he said. 

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, who had brought forward the Sinn Féin motion on the Living Wage which was part of the compromised votes, said the conduct of Dooley and Collins was an “absolute disgrace”.  

“I was delighted our Living Wage motion was passed by the Dáil, but unfortunately, the behaviour of two particular Fianna Fáil TDs has brought this positive result into disrepute.” 

Quinlivan said he will ask the Ceann Comhairle to have these votes retaken next week, “in order to remove this cloud of wrong-doing from the result”.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that Fianna Fáil TDs think they can act with such disregard for the rules and show such a level of arrogance by voting in the name of another TD not present in the Dáil Chamber,” Quinlivan said. 

Deputy Collins has been contacted for comment. 

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