Wednesday 28 September 2016

TD accuses Ceann Comhairle of 'misogyny' following Dail row

Niall O'Connor and Daniel McConnell

Published 13/05/2015 | 18:51

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett
Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett

The Chairman of the Dail has refused to comment after Socialist TD Ruth Coppinger accused him of misogyny.

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Ms Coppinger made the extraordinary allegation on the Dail plinth today, adding that she no longer has confidence in Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett.

The Dublin West TD said she is basing her allegation on being interrupted regularly during her Dail contributions.

"I don't have confidence in him based on the way I've been treated by him. I think there's an element of misogyny in his dealings as well in relation to myself and Mary Lou McDonald. That's even been raised by people who watch these interventions," Ms Coppinger said.

Ruth Coppinger
Ruth Coppinger

"I'm basing it on the fact I seem to be interrupted more and so do other female TDs," she added.

Ms Coppinger's claims were put to a spokesperson for the Oireachtas tonight who said the Ceann Comhairle has "no comment" to make.

The Dail has been suspended twice amid angry scenes this afternoon after provocative comments by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Mr Kenny, during Leaders' Questions, was responding to Anti Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy on the matter of Irish Water.

The Taoiseach told Mr Murphy to “toddle along” to a meeting this afternoon in Dail Eireann where Irish Water would answer any questions he had.

Having failed to answer direct questions from Mr Murphy as to the level of compliance rates, Mr Kenny was challenged by opposition TDs.

"What is the purpose of Leaders' Questions if you wont answer simply questions," asked Ruth Coppinger TD.

"The purpose of it is to tell you where to go," Mr Kenny quipped.

This comment drew a furious response from the opposition benches with Independent TD and former Labour Minister Roisin Shortall taking to her feet to demand Mr Kenny withdraw the remark.

"Repeat that statement. The Taoiseach has brought the House into disrepute. You should withdraw that comment," Ms Shortall said.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett demanded that Ms Shortall resume her seat but she responded sharply demanding that he protect the elected members, who have a mandate.

As tempers increased and Ms Shortall refused to take her seat, Mr Barrett suspended the Chamber.

When the Dail resumed, Ms Shortall again called on the Taoiseach to withdraw the comment.

However, Mr Barrett was furious and again demanded she stay quiet.

"You are not getting away with this, please resume your seat," he said before again suspending the House.

Irish Water later refused to disclose how many people have actually paid their bills, saying it is in the middle of an eight-week billing cycle and therefore could not produce accurate figures

The utility began sending out its first bills to households across the country in April.

Responding to Independent.ie, Irish Water said it was not in a position to confirm payment information at this time.

"The full 8 week billing cycle does not conclude until mid-June," a spokeswoman said.

"Some bills will be reissued during the billing cycle with updated customer information.

"Bills may be cancelled if issued to households who are not customers but who are telling us this for the first time.

"Customers who received a default bill but who have subsequently registered have also been reissued with an accurate bill."

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