OPPOSITION pleas for the Dáil to cut short its summer break to push through a referendum on children’s rights fell on deaf ears last night as the Government insisted TDs take a 12-week holiday.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the length of the time the Dáil would be suspended was outrageous and called for it to return for at least one day in September to decide on wording for the planned constitutional amendment, and also to set a date for the three outstanding by elections.
However, the Taoiseach dismissed the call, saying the Dáil would not return until September 29 and it was “nonsense” for the opposition to suggest the Government would be on holiday until then.
Deputy Fine Gael leader James Reilly said the decision would make the Dáil a “laughing stock”.
“The people are outraged and aghast at what is happening – they cannot fathom how the House can be so detached from the realities of the lives of ordinary people,” he said.
And, referring to a TV travel-show presenter, he added: “The only person who takes as many holidays as the Government does is Kathryn Thomas.”
Tánaiste Mary Coughlan insisted TDs would still be working through the summer whether the Dáil was in session or not as committee and constituency work would continue and it was an “injustice” to claim they would have a three-month vacation.
“I think it appropriate we have that recess to allow time for every member of this House to take a justifiable occasion of at least two weeks off,” she said.
Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín O Caoláin said the Government should dissolve the Dáil and hold a general election as it had no mandate for the spending cuts it was imposing.
The opposition forced a vote on the 12-week break, but FF and the Greens pushed the long recess through with a majority of six votes. Mr Gilmore said the Dáil had not returned from its summer break so late since 2003.
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