Coalition scrapes vote win as TDs stranded
Published 21/04/2010 | 05:00
THE Government scraped through a Dail vote yesterday after nine of its TDs were left stranded abroad by the volcanic ash crisis
It managed to win a vote on the order of business by 73 votes to 71, after ordering all available TDs, including former Taois- each Bertie Ahern, to attend
Those unable to get back, from countries ranging from Spain to Thailand, included former Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue, Independent TD Michael Lowry and Junior Minister Conor Lenihan.
In total, nine government supporting TDs were missing due to the loss of their flights, while Fine Gael were missing five TDs and Labour one.
Independent Wicklow TD Joe Behan abstained, while Fianna Fail's Niall Blaney was paired by Fine Gael. Mr Behan said that while he was annoyed at the pension top-up for Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher, he did not agree with the opposition attempt to "take advantage" of the volcanic ash crisis.
"That's playing games with an overall situation in the country that's very, very serious and I'm not going to co-operate with that," he said.
Junior Minister for Housing Michael Finneran was still stuck in southern Spain yesterday after travelling there on a holiday break. Fianna Fail Galway West TD Frank Fahey was in China, while Junior Minister for Science Conor Lenihan was stranded in Dubai after taking a break there. Fine Gael health spokesman Dr James Reilly was stuck in New York after doing volunteer work in Haiti.
Fine Gael deputy Jim O'Keeffe was trying to get back from Thailand after travelling to Bangkok last week with his wife to visit his daughter there.
"I'd like to get back and do my job and represent my constituents but there's people in a lot worse situation," he said.
Independent Fianna Fail Sligo- North Leitrim TD Eamon Scanlon was in the Hogan Stand pub in San Pedro in Spain, hoping that there would be space to get home on a promised "Paddywagon" bus.
He was highly critical of the lack of information coming from airlines, who, he said, had left old people and young children crying.
Labour TD Brendan Howlin spent three hours queuing in Brussels for a Eurostar ticket to London. He is due to return by ferry from Hollyhead tomorrow. He said he had been visiting Amsterdam for a meeting of an African support group of which he is vice president of.
Independent TD Michael Lowry told the Irish Independent he was stuck in Saudi Arabia, after travelling there last Wednesday on a trip relating to his refrigeration business.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny congratulated new Government Chief Whip John Curran on winning his first vote "by a short head".