Thursday 17 April 2014

Ceann Comhairle tells Ming and Mick: 'Dress to impress' in the Dail

CEANN Comhairle Sean Barrett wants Independent TDs like Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and Mick Wallace to wear tailored shirts instead of T-shirts.

It is likely to revive the controversial issue of the Dail dress code, which has lain dormant for the past year due to fears it would be impossible to enforce.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr Barrett said that since he had entered the Dail in 1981, it was always accepted that men would wear a jacket and a shirt "and at one stage a tie". He said his personal preference was for the dress code devised last year by the committee in charge of Dail standards.

"What we were saying in our recommendations was a jacket and a tailored shirt, in other words a collar, and there would be no denims," he said. Mr Barrett said he would like a free vote on a Dail dress code instead of TDs being whipped into line. "There doesn't need to be any whip on it. Everybody goes up and votes whatever way they feel. Some members disagree about whether you should wear a jacket," he said. The only current rule is that members should dress "respecting the dignity" of Leinster House, but there are no specifics. However, a source on the Dail's cross-party Committee on Procedure and Privileges confirmed there are no plans to bring in a dress code due to the belief that it would be impossible to enforce. It carried out a study of 15 other parliaments and found they generally operated a voluntary dress code system enforced by "peer pressure".

Mr Barrett has been a key influence in getting the Dail proceedings broadcast live on digital channels. But he said TDs who were shouting at opponents across the chamber were not doing the Dail's image any good.

As Ceann Comhairle, he has told TDs that he will not be "bullied" and has had several confrontations with Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Independent TDs such as Richard Boyd Barrett.

But he said that though it might appear pernickety, his intention was to ensure that the rules were abided by.

"It's never personal," he added.

Irish Independent

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