Friday 20 October 2017

Oireachtas meetings shunned by 85 TDs and senators

TDs and senators were supposed to be attending committees during their three-month summer break -- but not all of them turned up, writes Michael Brennan.

Those who missed the most committee meetings since the Dail's public sittings finished include Fianna Fail's Beverley Flynn; Labour senator Dominic Hannigan; independent senator Ronan Mullen; and Sinn Fein senator Pearse Doherty.

This is despite the fact that Tanaiste Mary Coughlan had insisted that all TDs and Dail committees would be working throughout the summer in order to justify the decision to take a three-month break.

Justify

Ms Coughlan said the TDs would be participating in their normal duties "and all of the committees would continue in that vein".

However, a survey by RTE found that no less than 85 TDs and senators had missed one or more of the 23 Oireachtas committee meetings held since the Dail finished up for the summer on July 8. That accounts for 38pc of TDs and senators.

The six meetings that Ms Flynn missed included four European Affairs Committee meetings and two meetings of the Health Committee.

Sinn Fein Senator Pearse Doherty from Donegal missed four committee meetings.

Labour Senator Dominic Hannigan of Meath missed all four meetings of the various committees of which he is a member. He said he had decided to focus on other work on the days of the meetings.

Independent senator Ronan Mullen missed four committee meetings. He has said that he focused on other work on some of the days in question and that he was also away for one week.

Fianna Fail Dublin North TD Darragh O'Brien was recorded on attendance sheets as missing two meetings of the Public Accounts Committee and one meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

But Mr O'Brien said that the two Public Accounts Committee meetings -- to discuss the release of documents about the state banking guarantee -- had been scheduled at the last minute and that he had already booked his holidays.

Fianna Fail Meath East TD Thomas Byrne, who also missed three meetings in the past three weeks, pointed out that he had been to five other meetings since the Dáil adjourned.

Fianna Fail Donegal North East TD Niall Blaney said he was focusing on constituency work and that the three committee meetings he missed had fallen on a "bad day" for him.

Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton missed three meetings of the European Affairs Committee in the past fortnight.

Irish Independent

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