Wednesday 14 November 2018

FF challenged on cost of 'stunt' to recall Seanad

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

FIANNA Fail is being challenged to say how much it will cost the taxpayer to recall the Dail and Seanad – after the party previously put the bill at €100,000 a day.

The Seanad is sitting next week, in what has been labelled a farcical emergency session, because Fianna Fail wants to overturn an EU directive on organ donation which was enacted into law.

Junior health minister Alex White said last night there was "absolutely no reason" to annul the legislation.

"Apart from putting Ireland in conflict with European legislation, such an approach would remove the statutory basis for vital aspects of a quality system for an organ donation and transplantation service, thus exposing the citizens of our country to unnecessary dangers," he said.

Fianna Fail is also seeking to have the Dail return from its summer break for a day to debate the matter.

However, it is unlikely the Dail sitting is going to happen as the party can't get the required signatures from 55 TDs to force the sitting.

The Seanad doesn't have the power to overturn the legislation, resulting in the sitting being described as "pointless".

Mr White's intervention follows a group representing organ donation patients saying it is happy with the law.

The Irish Donor Network (IDN) said the legislation is actually "non-controversial and a very positive development".

Fine Gael is now calling on Fianna Fail to say how much its "stunt" will cost the taxpayer as the Seanad, and possibly the Dail, will have to sit for a day.

Fianna Fail health spokesman Billy Kelleher estimated last year that a single Dail sitting costs the taxpayer €100,000 as he criticised the Government's Friday sittings.

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris said Fianna Fail should set the cost of recalling the Seanad and the Dail.

"Billy Kelleher told the nation it costs €100,000 a day to have the Dail sit. That is not my figure. It is Fianna Fail's figure.


"If it was good enough for Billy to throw out a year ago, let them back it up now on their pointless sitting."

A Fianna Fail spokesman said last night there was "no daily breakdown" on the cost of recalling the Seanad.

The spokesman said the official figure provided by the Houses of the Oireachtas on a daily Dail sitting was €90,000.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail senator Darragh O'Brien has reiterated his call for Health Minister James Reilly to reveal if he will attend the Seanad when it reconvenes next week.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section