Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher: Sinn Féin like meerkats staking out territory

Sinn Féin has come under fire for its Dáil “shenanigans” on the first day of the new term.

Numerous members of Sinn Féin put in disruptive performances on the opening day of the Dáil as they called for a debate and a vote on the abolition of Irish Water.

This was despite the fact that motions to be discussed had been agreed with all the party whips prior to the sitting.

Yesterday Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher accused Sinn Féin of acting like “meerkats staking out their territory” and said when it comes to Dáil reform people should practice what they preach.

However, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald denied that the party had employed cynical tactics to gain attention during the first sitting of the 32nd Dáil.

Instead she said a “remarkable piece of politics of gymnastics” had been performed in the Dáil by Fianna Fáil.

“I think it’s a bit farcical now on the one hand to say we are all about reform, we are all about affording deputies the opportunity to honour their mandate and to speak and then when people attempt to do so to accuse people of abusing Dáil reform, that’s a crazy concept,” she said.

Pearse Doherty and Gerry Adams were among the Sinn Féin members who called for a debate on the abolition of Irish Water on Thursday.

However, newly elected ceann comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said under current standing orders it was the Taoiseach’s prerogative to set the business of the Dáil and other issues could not be brought forward.

Ms McDonald said: “We were honourably attempting to discharge our function. We want the issue of water charges brought before the Dáil but it seems that other parties including Fianna Fáil who said that water was a red-line issue for them were not prepared to deal with the issue in the Dáil.”

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams

Mr Kelleher said three issues up for discussion during the next Dáil sitting had already been agreed upon: “Sinn Féin already yesterday were like meerkats staking out their territory to be quite truthful.

“The reality is their whip agreed that housing, agriculture and the European Council would be discussed on the 22nd of March and then there were these shenanigans inside the Dáil for two hours where they claimed they only wanted to talk about water.”

“So if we want to talk about new politics we should also practice what people are preaching,” Mr Kelleher told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

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