Wednesday 28 September 2016

Fianna Fáil party whip proposes for one month’s salary to be deducted from TD if they abuse Dail privilege

Philip Ryan, Political Correspondent

Published 11/04/2015 | 12:25

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald

Fianna Fáil party whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl has proposed a change to Dail rules which would see TDs deducted a month’s salary if they are found to have abused Dail privilege.

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Mr Ó Fearghaíl’s proposal comes after the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures and Privilege (CPP) found Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald breached Dail rules by accusing former politicians of been named in a dossier of alleged tax evaders.

Ms McDonald quoted extensively from a report by a whistleblower who claimed named former ministers held secret Ansbacher accounts to evade paying taxes in Ireland.

All those named have denied they held off-shore accounts operated by Guinness Mahon bank

Earlier this week, a CPP investigation found Ms McDonald abused Dail privilege by naming the individuals.

“In this Republic, Dáil Éireann holds a special place of privilege, and the deputies elected to it properly share in that privilege. However, it is increasingly clear that there are some who do not respect that special privilege and are happy to abuse it political purposes,” Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.

“As they are currently constituted, Dáil standing orders are based on the assumption that being found guilty of abusing privilege is a sufficient disincentive to prevent it happening. Unfortunately, that no longer appears to be the case and meaningful sanctions are now needed.

“Fianna Fáil does not believe that excluding members from the Dáil is appropriate as it penalises constituents rather than the guilty deputy, so we are proposing a straightforward financial penalty for those who are found guilty of abusing their position. Introduced as an automatic fine of one month’s salary, but reviewed after 12 months and increased as appropriate.

“We regret that such a proposal is necessary, but the special place that the Dáil chamber enjoys in Irish life is something that must be protected. Those who will happily undermine or subvert it in the interests of party political considerations must get the message that such behaviour brings with it meaningful consequences.”

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