Dáil adjourned after McDonald refusal to end sit-in

Dáil adjourned after McDonald refusal to end sit-in

The Dáil has been adjourned until 2pm on Tuesday after Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald refused to leave the chamber.

The Dublin Central TD has now left the chamber.

"I've ended my protest but rest assured, we in Sinn Féin will not relent when it comes to standing up for your rights," she said in a Facebook post.

"This is all about fairness."

Earlier today, Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett called a vote to suspend Deputy McDonald from the chamber.

This was passed by 64 to 43 votes – and despite being asked to leave by the parliament’s Captain of the Guard, the Sinn Féin TD refused and was joined by a number of her party colleagues on the Opposition benches.

The Ceann Comhairle refused to go back into the Dáil until she left.

After almost four hours of remaining in her seat, the Ceann Comhairle announced the adjournment.

He said that he regretted the having to make the decision, but he felt he had been left with no option.

“I cannot resume the business of the House until this sit-in is stopped,” he stated.

“It must be clearly understood that it is not my decision that Deputy McDonald leave the house, but it was a decision that was taken by the majority by way of a vote.

“If this action continues beyond 4.30pm and for the purposes of avoiding further reputational damage to the Institution, I will have no option but to formally adjourn the sitting until next Tuesday at 2pm.

“Finally, I wish to say that I very much regret having to take this route, but there is no other option open to me.”

Deputy McDonald then left the chamber after the announcement was made.

During the sit-in, Deputy McDonald posted a message on Facebook from inside the chamber claiming she was taking a stand for those struggling against austerity.

“I’m still here in the Dáil chamber,” she posted.

“Somebody had to make a stand for those that are struggling.

“The question to the Tánaiste still stands – can you give people an assurance that the state will not deduct water charges from people’s wages, pensions and welfare payments.

“People are literally terrified.

“Can you please reassure them.”

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams declared his support for Deputy McDonald, saying tha his party no longer has confidence in the Ceann Comhairle.

“I support Mary Lou McDonald in her actions this afternoon,” he said.

“Yet again, the Tánaiste would not answer a question put to her. These questions are voicing the concerns of countless thousands of citizens. Yet time and time again, the Minister refuses to answer them.

“The Ceann Comhairle continually allows Ministers to get away with this practice of not answering questions. The central tenet of parliamentary democracy is for the opposition to hold the executive to account. This does not happen in the Dáil. This certainly didn’t happen today.

“The Ceann Comhairle is continually deferential to Ministers. It is for this reason Mary Lou McDonald, in her refusal to leave the Dáil chamber today, has the full support of Sinn Féin.

“The opposition is mandated to hold the government to account. The Ceann Comhairle’s responsibility is to facilitate this in a fair way.

“Given his treatment of the opposition parties and independents and particularly Sinn Féin I have no confidence in the Ceann Comhairle.”

Sean O Fearghail, Fianna Fáil party whip, said his party voted against Ms McDonald being suspended from the Dáil but dismissed the protest as a ridiculous time-wasting exercise that brought politics into further disrepute.

“Sinn Féin clearly had an agenda coming into today’s sitting to adopt a disruptive approach in the chamber in order to distract from recent negative coverage,” he said.

“While I don’t believe Deputy McDonald should have been ordered from the house, and Fianna Fáil voted against the motion to have her expelled, the vote was lost and her expulsion was passed.”

It is not unheard of for representatives to be suspended for a day from the parliamentary chamber but a prolonged sit-in demonstrating against the move is unusual.

Last month, Dáil business was abandoned for the day after a row about speaking rights involving Independent representatives.


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