More severe penalties for unruly TDs, urges Barrett

Disorderly TDs who break Dáil rules should face more severe penalties, the Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett has declared.

More severe penalties for unruly TDs, urges Barrett

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Barrett also dismissed recent claims that he is biased towards Government TDs and insisted that he “bent over backwards to give everybody a fair hearing”.

In highly critical comments about Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, he said harsher penalties were now needed following the deputy party leader’s recent controversial actions in the Dáil. Ms McDonald, using Dáil privilege, read the names of five former ministers into the Dáil record earlier this month amid allegations that they had held offshore bank accounts to evade tax.

Mr Barrett said: “The only way you can stop these things is by the level of penalties you impose.

“We should change it and there should be severe penalties. And I’m saying that the deputy will have to apologise or failing to apologise would face a severe penalty of absence from the Dáil.”

Mr Barrett was also critical of TDs who refused to leave the chamber when ordered to do so.

“I couldn’t go back in [to the chamber] to resume business because there’s disorder.

“The captain of the guard went to her [Ms McDonald] every half hour to ask her ‘would you please leave’ and she said no. Now that’s something very new in this parliament.

“I always advise people that you don’t gain anything from being thrown out. You might have a minute of glory when your photograph is taken. The vast majority adhere to the rules.”

Mr Barrett, a Fine Gael TD, said he hoped TDs understood that he was trying to be an “independent chairman”.

“At times it can be a very lonely place. You can’t be seen to be [mingling] all the time. I go down to the bar occasionally to have a drink with whoever. You don’t want to give people the opportunity of saying ‘ah sure he spends his whole life down there, he’s totally biased’. It can be a difficult enough job.”

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