Opposition walk out of Dail over Guerin Report debate
Opposition TDs stormed out of the Dáil after a critical debate on the terms of reference for the investigation into claims of garda malpractice highlighted in the controversial Guerin Report was cancelled.
Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett called off the potentially divisive debate after receiving correspondence from lawyer's representing sacked Justice Minister Alan Shatter.
The report by barrister Sean Guerin was highly critical of Mr Shatter's handling of garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe's allegations of misconduct in the force and ultimately led to his resignation.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin accused the Government of trying to "muzzle" the Opposition and said the reasons for cancelling the debate were "farcical".
However, Mr Barrett's decision also surprised Government ministers and left Taoiseach Enda Kenny forced to defend the Ceann Comhairle as he was away on State business.
During sharp exchanges, The Taoiseach revealed Mr Barrett wrote to his office after receiving correspondence from Mr Shatter's lawyers.
Mr Shatter also has a legal action pending against the findings made against him in the Guerin report.
He wrote to the Ceann Comhairle asking to have references to 'Minister for Justice and Equality' in the terms of the inquiry removed.
Mr Barrett told the former minister he could not change the terms of reference and sent his letter to the Taoiseach's office.
However, the Ceann Comhairle told the Taoiseach the debate could not go ahead because of the legal impact it could have on future court cases relating to the report.
In the Dáil, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin demanded to see Mr Shatter's correspondence.
The Taoiseach said he "regretted" that there would be no debate but said he was bound by the Ceann Comhairle's decision.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams then orchestrated a walk after quickly seeking agreement from the Opposition benches.
Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, along with several Independent TDs held a press conference condemning the Government's action.