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Seán Barrett says opposition parties are entitled to question his decisions

He said he made remarks last Friday in the “heat of the moment” during an RTÉ interview.

Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated 9.44pm

SEÁN BARRETT HAS issued a statement to clarify remarks he made last week during an interview on RTÉ.

Following continued controversy over the block on a Dáil debate on the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into garda malpractice, the Fine Gael TD said he made comments “in the heat of the moment”.

“…during that interview I may have given the impression that the opposition were not entitled to question my decision as to why a debate was not allowed,” he said.

Of course I accept that they are entitled to question my decision. However, I will state that I made the decision after careful consideration in the best interest of the Oireachtas and the taxpayer.

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RTÉ News reports that the Ceann Comhairle is due to discuss Fianna Fáil’s concerns with party leader Michael Martin.

Earlier, Leo Varadkar lent his support to the under-fire Ceann Comhairle.

The Minister was speaking at the launch of the National Cancer Control Programme’s (NCCP) report on their 2006 cancer control strategy.

When asked if he thought the Ceann Comhairle should withdraw his remarks about opposition TDs attempting to “undermine” him, Varadkar said:

No, I don’t. I think Seán Barrett is doing an excellent job as Ceann Comhairle and I think he has been very fair.

Asked what he thought the implications of a motion of no confidence would be, the Minister said, “I honestly don’t know. But I listened to the Deputy Leader of Sinn Féin (Mary-Lou McDonald) on the radio this morning and she certainly didn’t indicate that was where they were going.”

Controversy 

Barrett faced heavy criticism in recent days for his decision about a Dáil debate on the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into Garda malpractice.

This resulted in opposition TDs walking out of the Dáil in protest.
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The reason given for this decision by Barrett was that he had taken legal advice available to him and had been informed that a debate into the terms of reference for a Commission of Investigation could potentially prejudice a High Court case looking at the same matter.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme this morning, Fianna Fáil Chief Whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl said that he believed that the Ceann Comhairle should withdraw the remarks he made in an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on Friday.

Neither Sinn Féin or Fianna Fáil has said they plan to move with a motion of no confidence in Barrett.

Event

The Minister was speaking today at the launch of the NCCP’s report on ‘A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland 2006′.

It is looking back on the achievements made by this programme ahead of a new strategy into cancer control that is expected to be launched later today.

First published 10.39am; additional reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll 

Read: That big row which led to the Dáil walkout is getting bigger (and now Shatter’s involved)

Also: Sorry Pat, the Ceann Comhairle says he’s in it until the end

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