TDs begin eight-week summer break despite protests

THE Dáil has risen for an eight-week summer break and will not return until September 14.

The Government was eager to stress yesterday that the Dáil had sat much longer this summer compared with previous years.

Nonetheless, the Coalition refused opposition requests to extend the term further to discuss developments at yesterday’s Brussels summit.

Fianna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív had called for the Dáil to sit next week to hear from the Taoiseach on the outcome of the summit.

Mr Ó Cuív said it was customary at this time of year for opposition parties to call for a shorter summer recess, a practice which added to the “myth that politicians are on holiday when the Dáil is not sitting in plenary session”.

He said he was not going to add to that “fable”, because he knew that other than taking a short break, most politicians would continue working throughout the recess.

Nonetheless, he believed it was important for the Dáil to sit next week “in view of the major importance of the summit”.

“The Taoiseach should report to the House on the summit and give us a chance to debate its outcome,” Mr Ó Cuív said.

The call was echoed by Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald, who said it would be “unacceptable if the Taoiseach were to fail to present himself before the House to give us a full account of the summit”.

Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins acknowledged that it had been a “difficult year” for members and that a break of some kind was required.

But he said the break should be delayed until Mr Kenny reported on the summit.

He also said it was “shameful” for the parliament to adjourn when no emergency mechanisms have been introduced to protect low-paid workers whose pay and conditions could be affected by a recent High Court ruling.

But Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore refused the requests, saying the eight-week break was the shortest recess proposed in his 22 years in the Dáil.

“We should acknowledge that the House, since the general election, has sat for 38% longer than was previously the case,” he said.

On the summit, he said the outcome would be discussed at a meeting of the cross-party Oireachtas Committee on Finance next Tuesday.

“As the House will be aware, every member of the House is entitled to attend meetings of committees,” Mr Gilmore said.

The length of the recess was put to a vote, which the Government comfortably won by 68 votes to 31.

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