Senior Fine Gael figures launch attacks on FF TDs who voted for colleagues

Senior Fine Gael figures launch attacks on FF TDs who voted for colleagues
Government chief whip Sean Kyne led the criticisms.

Senior Fine Gael figures launched stinging attacks on Fianna Fáil TDs who voted on behalf of their colleagues in the Dáil, describing their actions “cavalier” and “arrogant”.

Government chief whip Sean Kyne led the criticisms after a Dáil report failed to recommend disciplinary actions for TDs involved in the voting scandal.

“The irregularities in voting that occurred in this chamber last Thursday have severely damaged the position of trust given to every member of this house.

“The quality of our decisions has been called into question, decisions which affect the lives of everyone in this country,” said the whip to the Dáil.

A committee on procedure report stopped short of recommending sanctions for TDs Timmy Dooley, Niall Collins and Lisa Chambers over the controversy.

Mr Collins voted six times for Mr Dooley who was out of the chamber while Ms Chambers voted for colleague Dara Calleary as well as herself.

“The deputies concerned have done a grave disservice to their mandate, to their constituents and to their colleagues.

There is no way of explaining this away. It was wrong. It was thoughtless. It was cavalier. And it was arrogant.

“Voting more than once is wrong and reckless. Voting for other deputies who are not in the chamber is wrong and reckless.”

Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon said the report left outstanding questions.

These included the inability of Mr Collins to explain why he had voted six times for Mr Dooley and then stopped.

Mr Heydon also queried why Mr Calleary did he not correct the Dáil record after Ms Chambers voted for him.

“There are many people outside of this house who would find it hard to believe many of the accounts included in the report,” he added.

But Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin defended his TDs. He said it was a “comprehensive” report and there was no evidence the irregular votes had influenced the outcome of Dáil motions.

While admitting what his TDs had done was wrong, he said the demotions of Mr Dooley and Mr Collins from the frontbench would remain in place.

Deputies Dooley, Collins and Chambers all apologised while accepting they had done wrong. Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen similarly apologised for sitting in the seat of Mr Collins and voting for him last Thursday.

However, the apologies and defence irked some TDs.

Independent TD Catherine Connolly said Mr Martin's speech was "disgraceful" while Sinn Fein's David Cullinane said Deputies Collins and Cowen "should come clean and stop hiding behind nonsense".

Separately, both Mr Collins and Mr Dooley said they would fully cooperate with another inquiry into the voting scandal for the Dáil's ethics committee.

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