Dáil rules clear on insults: no 'gurriers', no 'acting the brat'

However, saying the F-word is not strictly against the rules, a previously secret document reveals.
Dáil rules clear on insults: no 'gurriers', no 'acting the brat'

First sitting Day of the 33rd Dail in Leinster House. Picture: Maxwells
First sitting Day of the 33rd Dail in Leinster House. Picture: Maxwells

Calling a fellow TD a “scumbag” “a rogue” or a “scoundrel” is not allowed in the Dáil, according to a previously withheld rule book.

However, saying the F-word is not strictly against the rules, this previously secret document reveals.

Known as the ‘Salient Rules of the Chair’, the 88-page document is a comprehensive guide for the Ceann Comhairle which has remained out of the public domain for years.

The recently updated document sets out in considerable detail what TDs are allowed do and say in the Dáil chamber.

For example, the Rules say members should not engage in criticising other members and members may not, under privilege of the House, repeat serious allegations which he states were made outside the House, the document states.

A member “must not threaten another member” and the chair protects Members against innuendo, insinuation and allegation.

But at the heart of the document is the list of rulings going back since the foundation of the State whereby personal charges or allegations were ruled out of order and therefore TDs are not allowed use these terms.

“Allegations of this nature which have been ruled as disorderly are that a Member was guilty of: murder or condoning or conniving at murder; blackmail; corruption, corrupt practices, etc; perjury; physical or moral cowardice, or of making a cowardly statement; graft, embezzlement or malversation and defalcation of public funds.”

The list also includes seditious libel; interfering in the distribution of land while a Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture; fraud and deception or being deceitful.

Previous chairs have ruled utterances out or order which suggested a member of Dáil Eireann was: dishonest; a black-marketeer; a smuggler; a rogue; a scoundrel or protector of thieves and rogues or trying to put his hand in the public purse.

Insulting and abusive expressions applied to a member, a Member's statement or a Member's actions or conduct have from time to time been ruled to be disorderly.

These include: brat, acting the brat; buffoon, buffoonery; communist; corner boy/corner boy tactics; fascist; gurrier; guttersnipe; hypocrite, bloody hypocrites, hypocrisy etc; rat; scumbag; scurrilous and yahoo.

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