DÁIL tensions sparked by deep welfare cuts exploded into foul-mouthed rage yesterday as a Government TD shouted: “Fuck you!” at an opposition deputy in the chamber.
The extraordinary exchange occurred as Green education spokesman Paul Gogarty reacted angrily to accusations from Labour’s Emmet Stagg that the Government had abandoned the poor.
“With all due respect and in the most unparliamentary language, fuck you deputy Stagg! Fuck you!” Mr Gogarty said.
The Green TD immediately apologised for his outburst, and later stated that he should not have been so thin-skinned.
However, the vehemency of the language used was condemned by opposition TDs who called for the deputy to be suspended. Mr Gogarty faces possible censure from the Oireachtas committee on procedures and privileges next Tuesday after the Ceann Comhairle Seamus Kirk confirmed he would raise the issue of parliamentary behaviour.
The expletive-laden attack is believed to be the first time the F-word has been deliberately used in open Dáil exchanges.
Last year Taoiseach Brian Cowen apologised after referring in the chamber to “fuckers”, but that was in a private aside to the Tánaiste which he did not realise would be picked up by microphones.
The Dublin West Green TD, who receives an extra €20,000 a year on top of his €100,000 annual Dáil salary for chairing the education committee, has a reputation as a maverick and said he was backing the welfare cuts as they were the only financial option for the state, even though he believed them to be “wrong” and “fundamentally unfair”.
Mr Gogarty also raised eyebrows when he revealed he understood a third rate of tax might be brought in next year.
Mr Gogarty’s outburst came as the Government was accused of “railroading” the Social Welfare Bill through the Dáil so that the across the board 4.1% benefit cuts would be passed before TDs had the chance to hear the views of constituents at the weekend.
The Government comfortably won the vote by 81-75 after the support of independent TDs and Fianna Fáilers who had resigned the party whip was secured with promises to push local health and transport projects in their constituencies.
Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Féin condemned the welfare cuts, claiming that the blind, the disabled, widows and carers had been hit unfairly for a second time after having the Christmas bonus withdrawn.
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