English and Cowen say they never asked colleagues to vote for them when absent from the Dáil

English and Cowen say they never asked colleagues to vote for them when absent from the Dáil

Junior Minister Damien English and Fianna Fáil's Public Expenditure spokesman Barry Cowen have insisted they never asked anyone to vote for them when not present in the Dáil.

The duo, speaking to the Irish Examiner, have said they were in the chamber on occasions when their button was pressed but they were not in their seats.

Mr English has confirmed he was at the back of the chamber on Wednesday, May 15, when his button was pressed in seat C-03 in the Dáil chamber during a vote on the Greyhound Bill, but he was not in his seat.

Speaking tonight, Mr English said he was at the back of the chamber and, as has often been the case, he “asked down for my button to be pressed”.

“My diary has me voting in the Dáil, so that means I was in the Dáil. I have never asked anyone to vote for me when I was not present,” he told the Irish Examiner.

Mr Cowen in a statement said similar in relation to September 26, when two votes were cast in his assigned seat of A-15, but he was not present.

He told the Irish Examiner: “I have never asked a colleague to vote for me when I was not in the chamber. As has been confirmed in the last few days, there is a known practice of members who are in the House asking colleagues to press the voting button if they are away from their seats in other parts of the chamber. There are at least four entrances to the Chamber that are used frequently by all members of the House.

“I want to make it absolutely clear - I believe that people have trust and integrity in the voting system and I welcome the Ceann Comhairle investigation. I hope there are recommendations in the report that will tighten voting practices so that there will not be any future misunderstandings or discrepancies,” he said.

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