Parties declare war as formal complaints made

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have declared war on each other after both parties made a series of formal complaints alleging their general election opponents have repeatedly broken rules in the Dáil votes saga.

Parties declare war as formal complaints made

Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have declared war on each other after both parties made a series of formal complaints alleging their general election opponents have repeatedly broken rules in the Dáil votes saga.

The parties took aim at each other after it emerged up to 12 government ministers have been caught up in the controversy and as an Irish Examiner survey found 11 TDs from each party have been flouting Dáil rules.

In a deepening political row that came as TDs and officials were hauled in overnight to meet Dáil clerk Peter Finnegan as part of his investigation, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil figures lashed out at each other over the controversy.

After it emerged Fine Gael TD Noel Rock has made two formal complaints under the Ethics Act against Fianna Fáil TDs Timmy Dooley and Niall Collins, a Fine Gael spokesperson said “Fianna Fáil has spent the last four days trying to muddy the waters and distract from its failure to answer questions”.

However, within an hour Fianna Fáil hit back, saying Fine Gael is just as guilty of wrongdoing. It said its own research team has spent recent days trawling through the past year of Dáil footage to find numerous government ministers have ‘voted’ while not being in the Dáil seats.

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The Fianna Fáil complaints which will be examined by the Dáil committee on procedures, involve:

An Irish Examiner survey of all 158 TDs has found up to 12 ministers — 10 from Fine Gael and Independent Alliance ministers Finian McGrath and Shane Ross— have been implicated.

However, the same Irish Examiner survey has also found at least 11 TDs from both parties are involved in some degree in what happened, underlying the suggestion they are ultimately damaging themselves as a result of the faceoff.

Meanwhile, it is understood that as part of the short Dáil vote investigation, the Dáil business committee will meet at 10.30am today to decide if statements from TDs involved will take place on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Finnegan’s report will be concluded by tonight, leading to ceann comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl meeting with the Dáil committee on procedures tomorrow to discuss its findings.

During a business committee meeting yesterday , the Irish Examiner understands Fine Gael TDs pushed for a widening of the Finnegan investigation while Fianna Fáil TDs sought to delay it until after the Dáil break next week.

The cross-party committee finally agreed to a short review to conclude by tonight and tomorrow.

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