TDs’ Dáil attendance improves significantly

The attendance rate of TDs at Dáil votes since the new parliament was formed in March has improved on participation levels in the year leading up to the election.

On average, just over one in five TDs in the 32nd Dáil missed or abstained from votes in the first seven months of the new Dáil.

As TDs return to Leinster House today after the summer recess, analysis by the Irish Examiner of the voting record of the country’s 158 TDs over 46 Dáil divisions that have been held since March 10 shows 22.5% of TDs are absent or abstain from each vote on average.

It compares favourably with the non-attendance rate of 40% during all of 2015 when Leinster House was gripped by the prospect of an election being called with the figure rising to 49% in the first two months of 2016.

The current high participation rate in Dáil votes also mirrors the first year of the previous Dáil in 2011 when non-attendance levels were 21.5%.

The absentee rate increased every subsequent year during the lifetime of the last administration.

Votes have been held on 18 of the 46 days on which the Dáil has sat since last February’s general election with many relating to the election of a taoiseach and ceann comhairle.

The Dáil record shows that 11 TDs — 10 Fine Gael and one Independent — have achieved a perfect attendance rate at votes in the parliament to date.

They include Education Minister Richard Bruton and junior health minister, Helen McEntee.

The others are Maria Bailey, Peter Burke, Bernard Durkan, Brendan Griffin, Seán Kyne, Tom Neville, Kate O’Connell, and John Paul Phelan.

The sole non-Fine Gael TD with a full attendance rate at Dáil votes is the Independent Alliance TD for Longford-Westmeath, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran.

The deputy with the poorest attendance record is Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow- Kilkenny, John McGuinness, who has missed more than two out of every three votes. Mr McGuinness, a former chairman of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, has a non-participation rate of 67.4% in votes in the new Dáil. It was 56% during the entire period of the 31st Dáil.

Other TDs who missed or abstained in more than half of votes were Sinn Féin TDs, Seán Crowe and Brian Stanley, and Fianna Fáil TD, Charlie McConalogue.

Independent TD for Tipperary, Michael Lowry, who had the worst absentee rate for voting in the 31st Dáil with the exception of Enda Kenny, who like all taoisigh has a high absentee rate because of attending official government business, has missed 39% of votes in the new Dáil. His non-attendance figure averaged over 73% during the lifetime of the previous government.

Apart from Fine Gael deputies, Mr Lowry is the TD who has voted the most consistently with the Government in the new Dáil, taking the same view as his former Fine Gael colleagues in over 96% of votes.

Among the various political parties, the Social Democrats had the worst participation rate as the party’s three TDs (which included Stephen Donnelly before his recent resignation) didn’t vote in over 38% of divisions.


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