Monday 26 September 2016

TDs to go on nine-week break while sound system is upgraded

Published 15/07/2016 | 02:30

The Dáil is to close for almost nine weeks from next Thursday to facilitate a €700,000 upgrade that will enable us hear the politicians better. Photo: AFP/Getty
The Dáil is to close for almost nine weeks from next Thursday to facilitate a €700,000 upgrade that will enable us hear the politicians better. Photo: AFP/Getty

The Dáil is to close for almost nine weeks from next Thursday to facilitate a €700,000 upgrade that will enable us hear the politicians better.

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TDs are to get an extra-long summer break, running from July 21 until September 27.

By the time they come back, the chamber's sound system will be overhauled.

Although some committee work will continue during September, there will be no debates or formal sessions in the Dáil.

The Dáil Business Committee said that "a major programme of improvements on technology" was necessary.

As part of the works, the microphone and voting systems in the Dáil chamber and Committee Room will be modernised.

In 2014 the Houses of the Oireachtas Service established a working group to review the technology supporting the chambers, investigate systems in operation in other parliaments, and examine the degree to which the business requirements of the Houses in relation to voting, broadcast and sound systems are met by existing technology.

According to a statement, the group found "that the age and obsolescence of the equipment supporting the chambers represents a critical risk and presents difficulties in respect of quality of output, support and scarcity of spare parts".

"The vulnerability to failure of critical systems supporting parliamentary business is compounded by the age of the cabling supporting the equipment, which needs to be replaced."

It noted that some elements of the sound system are 25 years old and do not provide good sound quality.

The voting system was installed in 2001. It has become increasingly difficult to support as spare parts are not easily available and repair is not possible.

It is planned that the removal of old units and cabling and the installation of new equipment will take eight weeks.

The committee does hope to have a symposium on the EU around one week before the Dáil resumes.

Irish Independent

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