The Dáil’s internal report into voting irregularities has been branded a “complete whitewash” by several Fine Gael ministers.
Reacting to leaks from the report yesterday morning, ministers were furious that Fianna Fáil TDs Timmy Dooley, Niall Collins, and Lisa Chambers all have escaped avoided any formal sanction.
“This is very concerning,” said one minister. “A complete whitewash”.
There is palpable anger within Fine Gael at the report’s findings, which recommend that rules be changed in the future.
Crucially, the report — conducted by the clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan — recommended that no sanction should be imposed on Mr Collins and Mr Dooley.
It concludes that Mr Collins was of the belief that his colleague Mr Dooley was to return to the chamber when he voted for him.
New sanctions, including suspending members for abusing their vote, must now be considered, the Dáil report findsstated.
It also says the rules governing votes should be amended to cover instances where members “abuse their privilege”.
It recommends that standing orders in the Dáil should include a right of referral by the Ceann Comhairle to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP) and the committee may find a member has deliberately misused the electronic voting system and abused privilege.
In that case, the committee shall recommend in its report to the House that such a member be named for disorder, which may lead to a suspension.
TheThe internal report also recommends: a wider review of voting which should be completed by the end of March. “A wider review of the voting system should be considered, drawing on best practice from across parliamentary systems, with a report submitted to the Committee on Procedure by March 31, 2020.”
The report finds it is now a matter for the CPP to consider what action, if any, to be taken in light of the evidence against Mr Dooley and Mr Collins.
The committee, the report warns, must be mindful of the fact that a number of complaints have been made under the Ethics in Public Office Act.
“I have taken advice from the chief parliamentary legal officer on this matter, who is of the view that it would not be wholly legally appropriate for the CPP to encroach on the statutory functions of the select committee on members interests,” Mr Finnegan said.
The report concluded that the rules governing the conduct of electronic voting should be adopted by the CPP.
- Members should vote from their designated seat;
- Members can no longer ask another member in the chamber to vote for them;
- Voting should not commence until all members are in their designated seats;
- The roles of tellers and their nomination as such must be set out;
- The chair will formally call the tellers and relevant whips to the table to certify the division lists and sign the official teller sheet. This will alert members who wish to raise an error to come to the table and alert the tellers;
- Any irregularity which arises after the vote must be notified to the Ceann Comhairle in writing.