Latest: Chamber descends into farce before Road Traffic Bill finally passes through Dáil

By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor

Update 1pm: The Dáil has passed the controversial Road Traffic Bill, which will lower drink driving limits, by 75 votes to eight.

The chamber descended into farce repeatedly as Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy Rae was accused of filibustering and wasting the time of the Dáil.

The Ceann Comhairle, Sean O Fearghail, time and time again urged Mr Healy Rae to stick to the topic at hand.

After several months of slow progress, the bill which has been welcomed by the families of those killed on Irish roads, will now move to the Seanad for passage.

During this morning's debate, Mr Healy Rae spoke for about an hour and was urged by other TDs to make way, but he insisted he was compliant with Standing Orders and would seek to continue his contribution.

“The Deputy is straying from the subject matter of the amendment... The Deputy is wandering away from the subject matter of the amendment... With the greatest of respect to the Deputy and I admire his ingenuity, he is referring to it but he is not speaking about it,” were among the warnings issued by the Ceann Comhairle.

In response, Mr Healy Rae said he was “sticking 100% to amendment 29,” which was the amendment under discussion.

He did finish his contribution after a plea from Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy. Once he concluded, the debate continued for another half an hour but further clashed occured between the Rural Alliance, of which Mr Healy Rae, is a part and Fianna Fail's Robert Troy.

A vote was called at about 12.30pm and passed to applause from the chamber.

“It is a sad day for rural Ireland,” Independent TD Danny Healy Rae exclaimed as the official announcement was made. His remarks were met with jeers from other TDs.

Earlier: Ceann Comhairle berates Michael Healy-Rae for delay tactics during traffic bill debate

Update 11am: Michael Healy-Rae has again been accused of delay tactics as the Road Traffic Amendment Bill is debated in the Dáil.

The bill, which would involve drivers facing a temporary ban for a first offence of drink driving, has been under consideration for some time, with the vast majority of TDs supporting it.

Road safety campaigners have accused those opposed to the bill of "disgraceful tactics".

A small group of rural TDs has been accused of filibustering for its opposition to the bill.

Among them is Michael Healy-Rae who was accused of delaying again this morning by Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

He spoke to Mr Healy-Rae about the Dáil debate on the bill, saying: "You're referring to it, but you're not speaking about it."

Mr Healy-Rae replied: "Well, I'm coming back to it," to which the Ceann Comhairle answered: "Try and take the direct route rather than the circuitous route."

The Kerry TD assured the Ceann Comhairle, saying: "I'll take the straightest line possible, Ceann Comhairle."


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