Committee to consider possible sanctions for abuse of Dáil privilege

A new forum is looking into whether TDs should be curtailed in what they are allowed to say in the Dáil.

The committee will also look into establishing sanctions for politicians who abuse Dáil privilege.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl sought to set up the new forum last month after claims were made that Dáil privilege had been repeatedly breached in recent months. 

It came after AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy used Dáil privilege to accuse a number of gardaí of committing perjury during the Jobstown trial.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar responded by accusing Mr Murphy of “thuggery” in the Dáil.

Criticisms were previously aired after Independents4Change TD Mick Wallace breached privilege on the issue of Garda whistleblowers.

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell also used privilege to name TDs Dessie Ellis and Martin Ferris during a discussion around the 1983 IRA killing of prison officer Brian Stack.

The Forum on Parliamentary Privilege, which has been set up to examine the balance between freedom of debate for members of the Dáil and the rights of individuals, is now inviting public submissions on the matter.

This forum will now come up with guidelines around constitutes a responsible use of freedom of debate in the Houses of the Oireachtas and what measures to protect the good name of the citizen should be considered.

They will also be tasked with looking into what sanctions should be imposed on a member who has abused privilege. They will also be asked to decide on what sanctions should be imposed on a member who has abused privilege.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said: “As Ceann Comhairle, I am acutely aware of the need to balance the Constitutional right to freedom of debate during parliamentary proceedings, and the right of private individuals to their good name. 

“I have asked the forum to examine issues surrounding the constitutional right to freedom of debate and it will offer advice and recommendations which will be brought to the committee on procedure of Dáil Éireann. As part of this process, the forum is now inviting public submissions on Dáil privilege,” he said.


Lifestyle

This Christmas remember that there is no such thing as cheap food.Buy local: Use your LOAF

As we wait, eager and giddy, a collective shudder of agitated ardor ripples through the theatre, like a Late, Late Toyshow audience when they KNOW Ryan’s going to give them another €150 voucher. Suddenly, a voice booms from the stage. Everyone erupts, whooping and cheering. And that was just for the safety announcement.Everyman's outstanding Jack and the Beanstalk ticks all panto boxes

Every band needs a Bez. In fact, there’s a case to be made that every workplace in the country could do with the Happy Mondays’ vibes man. Somebody to jump up with a pair of maracas and shake up the energy when things begin to flag.Happy Mondays create cheery Tuesday in Cork gig

More From The Irish Examiner