Vote Gate scandal has eroded public confidence in politics, says Ceann Comhairle

The speaker of the Dáil, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said the voting scandal of a week ago was a “political failure,” which eroded public confidence in politics.

Vote Gate scandal has eroded public confidence in politics, says Ceann Comhairle

The speaker of the Dáil, Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said the voting scandal of a week ago was a “political failure,” which eroded public confidence in politics.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Mr Ó Fearghaíl was commenting after a report into the incident involving two Fianna Fáil TDs Timmy Dooley and Niall Collins and confirmed neither will be subject to sanction.

“Let me say, the problems of last Thursday were not of a technical nature. The failure was political, and – as politicians and parliamentarians – there is an onus on us to deliver the solutions which are now required,” he said.

“The controversy that has ensued following the voting one week ago has further eroded public confidence in how our National Parliament conducts its business.

"Like many Members I have received emails, phone calls and correspondence from the public, which has been highly critical of our voting practices,” he told the chamber.

He said TDs have a fundamental duty to behave in a manner that supports and reflects this and should endeavour to avoid comment or action that undermines the institution of parliament or how it is perceived.

The Ceann Comhairle said it is a matter of deep personal and professional regret to me that this did not happen last week.

“Over the coming hours I hope Members of this House will take the opportunity to read this report. It is factual and evidence-based.

"It makes no findings against any individual, but the facts as laid out in the report are stark and unpalatable.

"It is sobering to reflect on the voting irregularities that occurred last week and under no circumstances can they be allowed to happen again,” he added.

The Constitution requires Members of this House to be present in the Dáil Chamber when voting. There can be no deviation from this fundamental requirement, he said.

“On a personal level, I have always believed that when errors are made in life they should be admitted and learned from, and I would apply this maxim to what transpired last week.

"As Ceann Comhairle I have endeavoured to be open and accountable about these events.

As a parliamentary institution we can take some solace from having established the facts expeditiously.

"I also very much appreciate the co-operation that every Member gave in the course of this process,” he added.

As stated in the report there are now a number of complaints which have been made pursuant to the Ethics in Public Office Acts, the Dáil heard.

Of necessity and based on legal advice, these complaints must be allowed to take their course in accordance with the processes laid down under statute, he said.

It is now for the Committee on Members’ Interests to examine the matter and to recommend any appropriate sanction.

“Any recommendation from that Committee will be made to this House and it will be this House – not any one committee - which will decide the imposition of sanctions if appropriate,” he added.

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