Labour leader Brendan Howlin accuses Michael Noonan of showing contempt to Dáil

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has accused his former Cabinet colleague Minister Michael Noonan of showing contempt to the Dail, writes Daniel McConnell.

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Mr Howlin was speaking after the Dail carried a Labour motion seeking to delay the sale of AIB shares is an extraordinary one.

Despite failing to table a counter motion or defeat the Labour motion, Mr Noonan has confirmed his intention to ignore the result.

Mr Howlin was scathing in his criticism.

"All parties were present in the Dáil chamber, and voted one by one on five amendments which had been tabled to our motion. Each of those was defeated in turn. This meant that the final decision was on the original motion, unamended. The Government, caught up in chattering about the Fine Gael leadership, neglected to oppose the motion. As the Dáil record clearly states, "motion put and declared carried," he said.

Mr Howlin added: "For several hours this afternoon, the Department of Finance sought to claim that there had been no vote, or that matters were unclear. Minister Noonan went so far as to tell the Dáil that there was a dispute over this. But there is no dispute, and it was only when I made public the text of the official Dáil record that this spin came to an end."

"The statement released by Michael Noonan this evening shows worrying contempt for Dáil Éireann. If the Government wants to override a decision of parliament, then they should table a new motion, and seek majority support. Their disregard for the views of parliament amounts to the final nail in the coffin of this do-nothing Dáil," he added.

In response, a defiant Mr Noonan said the sale of the shares will proceed.

In a statement, Mr Noonan said he noted votes in the Dail on the various motions in relation to proposed changes to the fiscal rules with a proposed consequential delay of a sale of a stake in Allied Irish Banks.

He noted that Labour’s Private Members Motion was passed by the Dail.

"Private Members Motions are not legally binding on the Government and the Government’s position was set out by the Minister in the Dail debate on these motions last week. The Government position remains unchanged," a spokesman for Mr Noonan said.

The Programme for a Partnership Government clearly allows the Minister to sell up to 25% (plus greenshoe) of Allied Irish Banks up to the end of 2018, the statement added.

The Minister has consistently stated that any sale of Allied Irish Banks will be based on advice from his officials and advisers based on market conditions and maximising value for the taxpayer, said the spokesman.

The Social Democrats also accused Mr Noonan of treating the Dail with contempt.

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