Calls to suspend Dáil's electronic voting amid inquiry into TDs

There are mounting calls for the Dáil's electronic voting to be suspended pending the outcome of an inquiry into TD's voting on behalf of colleagues.

Calls to suspend Dáil's electronic voting amid inquiry into TDs

There are mounting calls for the Dáil's electronic voting to be suspended pending the outcome of an inquiry into TD's voting on behalf of colleagues.

Politicians from across the political divide have demanded a halt to the current system of voting in a bid to salvage the integrity of the process.

Former Tánaiste, Joan Burton, speaking to the Irish Examiner, said: “I think there should be a return to physically walking through the lobbies and voting for a period of time via TDs being checked by staff until a more secure system is produced. Whips are responsible for observing votes they need to examine matter. Votes are key to how our democracy works and people’s trust in it.”

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy also said a suspension to the electronic voting is merited in the short run if it has the potential of restoring public confidence in the Dáil.

Speaking to the Examiner, she said the current electronic voting system must be re-examined in light of what has emerged.

She said voting for absent TDs is “a breach of the Constitution” because it states elected representatives “have to be present and voting”.

“Leinster House makes its own rules, but it makes them in line with the Constitution and the Constitution is very clear: Article 15 says all questions in each house (of the Oireachtas) shall be determined by a majority of votes by members present and voting.”

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed he wrote to the Ceann Comhairle seeking he launch an investigation into the voting incident involving Fianna Fáil TDs Niall Collins and Timmy Dooley.

Communications Minister Richard Bruton said TDs casting ballots for each other was “common practice”.

While saying a fellow TD has never voted for him when he wasn’t in the chamber, the Minister said: “If I was sitting in someone else’s chair ... and someone was sitting ... you know, I’d just say press my button, I’m here. That has become common practice. But what has gone wrong here is that people not in the chamber at all voted.”

Earlier, Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers said she mistakenly sat in her colleague and party deputy leader Dara Calleary’s seat last Thursday for one vote and moved to her own seat for the same vote as soon as she realised.

The party’s Brexit spokeswoman said she denied over the weekend ever having voted for anyone else, or asking anyone to vote for her, because she took that to mean that she “intentionally, knowingly, purposely” done so.

Ms Chambers said on Monday Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accepted her explanation of how she voted for a party colleague in the Dáil.

Ms Chambers said she does not expect to be suspended from her front bench role - like party colleagues Mr Dooley and Mr Collins - because “what happened to me is very different.”.

“What happened with me was an honest genuine mistake,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

“I honest to God believed I was in my seat, and I was pressing my voting button,” she said.

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