Micheal Martin will not reinstate two TDs he removed from the Fianna Fáil front bench after the vote-gate controversy.
Timmy Dooley and Niall Collins stepped down in October, when Dáil footage showed Mr Dooley appearing to motion Mr Collins toward his vote button before he left the chamber.
When asked about a fresh voting issue in relation to Lisa Chambers, Mr Martin accused Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of “doing everything he possibly can” to deflect from the controversy surrounding former Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy and his own role in it.
“The Taoiseach has not faced up to the moral issue that underpins the Dara Murphy case,” Mr Martin told Newstalk.
It’s not just about turning up or fobbing or those issues, important as they are; it’s really, fundamentally about the representational role of a deputy and the legislative role of the deputy and, clearly, Dara Murphy didn’t fulfill either in the last two years, and his input into the parliamentary processes was virtually zero.
New Dáil footage shows Ms Chambers casting votes on behalf of Mr Dooley last January. Mr Dooley said he was in the Chamber at the time and Dáil records show he was in Leinster House.
Ms Chambers said she is unsure as to why she was being singled out, as many other TDs were in different seats on the same day.
“In my own view, the Government are under pressure with the Dara Murphy scandal and attempting to deflect from that issue by targeting me,” she said.
Mr Martin said the incident was “no different to what has happened across the board. We know that there were lax practices, in terms of deputies from all parties, from the Taoiseach down, who would have voted for other colleagues while they were in the chamber; in other words, they would have pressed a button for colleagues who were in the chamber; that seems to be the situation here.”
Separately, the Dáil’s ethics committee is still investigating the voting incident claim that Mr Collins voted six times on behalf of Mr Dooley who was not in the chamber at the time.
Asked when he intends to reappoint the two TDs, Mr Martin said: “I took immediate action when that became known; I took action in terms of removing both from the front bench.
“I did say at the time I was making that decision pending the outcome of the members’ interest committee, because I didn’t want to prejudice it, or prejudice the outcome of it,” said Mr Martin. “That’s the position as of now, and that remains the position.”