Sunday 21 January 2018

Ceann Comhairle: persistent mobile phone use in Dáil 'profoundly sad' and signal should be blocked

Seán Ó Fearghaíl wants to block signal in Dáil chamber. Photo: Tom Burke
Seán Ó Fearghaíl wants to block signal in Dáil chamber. Photo: Tom Burke
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl has asked Oireachtas officials to consider the introduction of a mechanism that will block the mobile phone signal in the Dáil chamber.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl described the persistent use of mobile phones by Dáil deputies as "profoundly sad", adding that it is the issue that generates the vast majority of complaints from members of the public.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Ó Fearghaíl said there were ways in which the issue could be tackled, including the option of blocking the mobile phone signal within the chamber.

"What I have discussed with the management team here is whether or not we could actually block mobile devices in the chamber, which would therefore render them useless to people," Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.

"On a broader level, I think it's particularly sad that legislators are so addicted to their mobile phones that they cannot leave them outside when they are transacting the important business of the Dáil.

"I think it's profoundly sad and as I say, I notice with my teenage children, that many of them are addicted to these particular devices. One would expect better from parliamentarians."

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Dáil sent a warning shot to left-wing TDs over the wearing of 'Repeal the Eighth' T-shirts in the chamber. Members of the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit sparked controversy last year by wearing the T-shirts. The move sparked a fresh debate about whether a Dáil dress code should be introduced.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said the move brought the Dáil into disrepute and should not be repeated. "The particular instance when 'Repeal the Eighth' was used was unprecedented. We've asked the staff in the research office to examine what sort of protocols are in place in other parliaments," he said.

"It really doesn't at the end of the day advance any particular cause. You could have people in next week with the opposite message on their shirts and it would turn the Dáil into a circus."

Irish Independent

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