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Lisa Chambers to be issued a warning for her involvement in 'Votegate'

A number of TDs have admitted to voting for a colleague in the Dail.

Lisa Chambers admitted to voting for a party colleague in the Dáil.
Lisa Chambers admitted to voting for a party colleague in the Dáil.

FIANNA FÁIL TD Lisa Chambers is to be issued with an official warning for her involvement in the votegate controversy. 

The Dáil Committee on Members Interests met this morning to discuss possible sanctions that could be imposed on the TDs involved.

The controversy dominated the political agenda in October, when it emerged Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesperson Niall Collins had pressed the voting button of his colleague Timmy Dooley in the Dáil six times in one session.

Lisa Chambers as well as Barry Cowen were also caught up in the matter. 

Chambers made an admission at the time that she also voted for one of her absent colleagues during the same session, before pushing her own button.

She accidentally sat in Dara Calleary’s seat, she explained, but she accepted that she should have told the teller so that the record could be corrected.

“It was an honest and genuine mistake,” she said in an interview on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

The committee has today recommended that she be reprimanded, agreeing that a warning be issued to her for “inadvertently voting twice” for her colleague Dara Calleary and for not correcting the Dáil record.

A report with their recommendation of a warning will have to go to the Dáil next week for confirmation.

The inquiry into the votegate controversy was due to be finalised today, however, matters relating to Collins and Dooley are to be delayed until mid January. 

Niall Collins and Timmy Dooley 

The controversy surrounding Dooley and Collins relates to Collins casting votes for motions for both himself and Dooley. He claimed he thought Dooley was at the back of the chamber on a phonecall. 

However, Dooley was not in the Dáil chamber at the time – in fact at one stage he left the grounds of Leinster House altogether. 

After the issues with the voting system were revealed, the Ceann Comhairle ordered a report from the Committee on Procedure into the incident involving the two Fianna Fáil TDs.

Party leader Micheál Martin decided to suspend the two deputies from the front bench pending the outcome of the Dáil investigation and the party’s own inquiry into the incident. 

Barry Cowen became embroiled in the controversy, as he and Collins were sitting in each other’s seats for the session in which Dooley’s phantom votes were cast. However, Cowen has since been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Dáil Members Interests Committee.

While the committee cannot sanction TDs, it is understood it can recommend a punishment of up to three months suspension without pay. 

It is believed that Dooley will not face any punishment come January, as he did not request Collins to push the button on his behalf. 

However, Niall Collins has admitted he had pressed Dooley’s voting button in the mistaken belief he was still present. 

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