Letter to the Editor: More legal sanctions for proxy voting

Letter to the Editor: More legal sanctions for proxy voting

Is there no end to the inappropriate behaviour of our publicly elected representatives in the Dáil?

In recent times one of their number sought compensation for falling off a swing — now we have allegations of proxy voting. Those who gave permissions to their equally reprehensible TD colleagues to vote on their behalf are equally guilty of perverting democracy.

Many of the TDs implicated in “buttongate” were to all intents and purposes as lathair/absent which is hardly faoi ghlas i Sassana (Members of the first Dáil who couldn’t attend were largely recorded as under lock and key in English prisons which most of them were).

Surely getting a fellow TD to vote on your behalf is impersonation, a criminal offence and democratically offensive.

I argue that this form of proxy voting is a much more serious offence than impersonation which carries a punitive legal sanction. It’s not as if with salaries of €96k that TDs aren’t being paid enough to attend the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Proxy voting like this could render legislation being enacted to be illegal of itself because of a lack proper legal probity in the conduct of parliamentary procedures.

This type of proxy voting is an assault on our democracy and its democratic institutions and those found guilty should have to resign the privileged positions as Teachta Dala and be compelled to face the electorate in by-elections to answer for their improbity to their constituents.

Furthermore on a lighter note can you imagine if proxy voting had been legitimate in recent Brexit votes in The Houses of Parliament in the Palace of Westminster — double jeopardy indeed.

Some of those accused of proxy voting said ‘oh I just made a mistake’ — do these elected representatives really expect a very well educated electorate to swallow that kind of childish defence!

Those found guilty of proxy voting after a proper inquiry should be met with the severest legal sanctions as their actions demean and pervert the very democracy and republic that countless Irishmen and Irish Women lost their lives to achieve during The War of Independence 100 years ago.

Pol O’hOdharain

School of Nursing & Midwifery

Trinity College Dublin

This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 28 October 2019.

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