'No-show' in Dáil chamber paints poor picture of politics - minister
Adams admits Dáil farce is a 'sad reflection' on Sinn Féin
Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30
The Coalition minister who was forced to pass legislation on her own because the Opposition failed to show up in the Dáil chamber says the episode paints a "bad picture" of Irish politics.
Rural Affairs Minister Ann Phelan spoke of her shock after she single-handedly voted through amendments to the Government's Prisons Bill without any contributions from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin or the Independents.
The bill sealed the closure of St Patrick's Institution for young offenders.
Ms Phelan recalled the sentiments of playwright Oscar Wilde, who penned a letter in 1897 which told of the experiences of child prisoners who were incarcerated alongside adults in Reading jail.
"And the legislation I was bringing in yesterday was consigning St Patrick's Institution to history, where young male offenders under the age of 18, would not be in with adult male offenders and seeing things and being exposed to things that no 17-year-old should be exposed to.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accepted that the absence of his TDs from the debate reflected poorly on his party, Mr Adams replied:
"Yes. We should have put representatives in the chamber. I'm sure we had representatives around the Dáil. But the responsibility rests with the Government for not tabling and scheduling appropriately legislation that it wants to bring forward."