A Dáil committee has defended a 10-week recess, until the end of September, as the time is needed to allow almost €700,000 in “urgent” refurbishments of Leinster House.
During a media briefing yesterday, the Oireachtas business committee confirmed the length of the summer break and the public cost involved.
Under plans agreed by all parties, parliament is due to shut from July 21 until September 27.
The summer recess, two weeks longer than expected, led to criticism inside and outside Leinster House when it was first suggested in May.
Addressing the issue yesterday, business committee chairman and Dáil ceann comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said the length of the break was needed to allow for long-overdue infrastructure improvements in the parliament chamber and separate updates, conducted by the Office of Public Works, on other parts of Leinster House.
He said there will be improvements to the sound system, voting display system, display monitors, and linked cabling, with the total cost amounting to €690,000.
The cost is due to come from the existing Oireachtas budget and will not cost the taxpayer any additional money.
While an exact cost breakdown has not been provided for each improvement, one official noted the changes must take place immediately as some technology was up to 25 years old and was put in place “when Bryan Adams was topping the charts singing ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It for You’”.
Asked what will happen if the refurbishments are not completed by the time the Dáil is due to return, Mr Ó Fearghaíl said while the refurbishment is not “just fiddling with the gadgets”, it will be completed on time.
“We will be back here on September 27 even if we have to have candles and megaphones,” he said.
He noted that while the Dáil will not be sitting over the next 10 weeks, some committees will return from September 3. TDs and senators will also be required to attend a nearby Brexit symposium later that month.
Any likely plan to temporarily relocate the Dáil so it could continue to sit without a break, due to the lengthy delay in forming a government, was rejected earlier this summer.
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