Tuesday 22 August 2017

Unholy row brews between TDs over vote on Dáil prayer

Independent deputy Mattie McGrath has attacked moves to block a ‘moment of reflection’ in Dáil business. Photo: Tom Burke
Independent deputy Mattie McGrath has attacked moves to block a ‘moment of reflection’ in Dáil business. Photo: Tom Burke
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

TDs are embroiled in an unholy war over the Dáil prayer, days before they are due to take a two-week break for the Easter holidays.

Left-wing TDs have called for a debate and vote on the prayer, which has been read out by the Ceann Comhairle before each Dáil debate since the formation of the Dáil Éireann.

The move follows a proposal by the Oireachtas Committee on Procedures and Privileges to introduce 30 seconds of silent reflection after the Dáil prayer.

The proposal was aimed a appeasing TDs of different faiths and those opposed to the reading of the Catholic prayer in the lower chamber.

A motion on introducing a moment of reflection was due to be put before the Dáil without debate yesterday ahead of a vote tomorrow.

However, left-wing TDs who sit on the Oireachtas Business Committee opposed the move, as it would require deputies to stand while the prayer was being read.

Róisín Shortall, of the Social Democrats, and Solidarity TD Mick Barry challenged the motion.

Currently, TDs are not required to stand while the prayer is being read into the house.

On Twitter, Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger attacked the proposal, saying: "There should be no prayer in the workplace."

However, last night, Oireachtas Business Committee member and Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said the introduction of a reflection period was "more than reasonable".

Mr McGrath said left-wing TDs were "only tolerant towards others when it's going their way".

"You can't please them. They got a compromise, but they obviously changed their mind over the weekend," he added.

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty said the "whole idea of the motion was to be inclusive and intolerant".

"They made the same change in the Seanad and the world didn't fall in," Ms Doherty told the Irish Independent.

The Dáil prayer read out by the Ceann Comhairle before each debate is: "Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspirations and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended; through Christ Our Lord. Amen."

Irish Independent

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