Gentleman's agreement: a guide to pairing
A PAIR is the term given to a government minister or TD being granted permission from the opposition to miss a Dail vote.
Pairing is essentially a gentleman's agreement between the Government and opposition.
It means the opposition will not take advantage of a government TD being absent. Under the pairing regime, a TD from an opposition party agrees not to vote when the Government deputy is not present.
Arrangements are often made to allow a minister to go abroad on official business, such as a trade mission or EU meeting. Long-term illnesses are also invariably covered.
If a minister or TD is absent without a pair, there is no obligation on the opposition to provide cover.
Owing to the Government's slim majority in the Dail, the coalition is now entirely dependent upon being granted pairs to allow ministers to travel.