Government’s Dáil manoeuvre a ‘sham exercise’

THE Government’s decision to disallow routine Dáil debates and questions until next week was yesterday described as a “sham exercise” by the Labour Party.

Instead of discussing matters arising from the publication of the Moriarty Report on the former Taoiseach Charles Haughey and Nuala O’Loan’s report on collusion, the Dáil yesterday commenced its two day discussion on the Health Bill.

Chief whip of the Labour party, Emmet Stagg, described it as a “sham exercise” designed to disguise the “unusually” long Christmas break the Government had decided to take.

The fact that leaders’ questions, oral questions to ministers, written questions and adjournment debates will not feature until next week was severely criticised by the chief whip.

“In other words any of the procedures that are normally available to the opposition to perform its constitutional duty of holding the Government to account, have been withdrawn for this two-day session,” he said.

“This comes after a year which saw one of the lowest numbers of sitting days ever and when the Dáil business collapsed on at least three occasions during the final session.”

Mr Stagg believed there was “absolutely no reason” why the Dáil could not return to normal business this week or even earlier, adding that the Government had taken a deliberate decision to limit the number of sitting days in the Dáil between now and the election.

In effect, this would limit the Government’s exposure and the chances for the opposition to question them according to Mr Stagg.

“This latest episode emphasises the urgent need to restructure Dáil sittings. Recesses should be significantly shorter,” he said.

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