Latest: Extended Dáil summer recess 'unthinkable', says Sinn Féin

Latest: Extended Dáil summer recess 'unthinkable', says Sinn Féin

Update 12.30pm: Speaking in the Dáil this morning Sinn Féin’s Mary-Lou McDonald said it would be “absolutely unthinkable” to rise so early and not return until September, writes Elaine Loughlin of the Irish Examiner.

This was echoed by Fianna Fáil’s Michael Moynihan who asked how a break of around three months could be justified.

Speaking in the Dáil he said: “There was a general discussion at the Whips' meeting yesterday but from reports we have received from the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last night, it seems to have been confirmed to that meeting that the House will rise on 7 July this year.

“How can that be justified with the amount of work required and the amount of business that needs to go before the Dáil concerning a whole variety of urgent areas that I could mention?”

Ms McDonald said that if works need to be done in the chamber, alternative accommodation should be sourced and she suggested the Round Room in the Mansion House as an appropriate venue.

She added: “Having stalled for ten weeks while there were negotiations and no small amount of sham battling between different parties, it would be absolutely unthinkable that the House would rise on 7 July and not return until the end of September.

“We cannot have a situation where we are barely in and just about off to a spluttering start with Dáil business and then we go into recess again. There are too many serious issues to be dealt with to allow that to happen,” Ms McDonald said.

Labour TD Jan O’Sullivan said TDs would not have appropriate time for legislation if a lengthy break is taken over the summer.

“I add my voice to the others in respect of not having an overlong recess.

“I understand the work to be done in the Chamber is not major. While other work needs to be done around the House, could we not sit in the chamber while this work is being carried out and find accommodation, if necessary, for us in other places?” she asked.

Update 12pm: The Ceann Comhairle has said that it is his understanding that the building work to be carried out in Leinster House does not require the Dáil to go into recess on July 7.

There have been objections raised in the Dáil this morning to a plan revealed at the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party last night to suspend Dáil sittings for as much as 12 weeks.

Fianna Fáil questioned how it can be justified while Sinn Féin says such a move would be unthinkable and suggested moving the Dáil to the Mansion House for the duration of the works.

However, after Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald suggested the building work was necessary, Ceann Comhairle Seán O'Fearghail said that he believed the Dáil doesn't need to be vacated so early.

“It’s my understanding that while there is very important work to be undertaken, such work would not require the House to rise on the 7th, and what briefings are given, or are not given are not a matter for discussion here on the Order of Business,” he said.

Earlier:

Politicians will vote on a proposal to extend their summer holidays later.

The longer summer recess, of nearly three months, is expected to be raised during the order of business today.

The holiday is to allow renovations in the Georgian buildings of Leinster House.

If passed the Dáil would break up for the summer on July 7 and would not return until late September.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described it as "too early and too long".

“It is a surprise because that hasn’t been communicated to me, although I did speak with the Ceann Comhairle and the Clerk of the Dáil two weeks ago and they were indicating it would be the middle of July, around the 18th.

“The clerk did explain about the structural problems with Leinster House, the old part of Leinster House from his perspective, required urgent remedial works, in terms of securing it and so on.”

Deputy leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou Mc Donald plans to raise the issue this morning.

“Unjustifiable – it’s nuts,” she said.

“I’ll be on my feet in the space of a couple of hours challenging it on the Dáil floor.”


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