FG will ask ex-minister to explain absence from Dáil vote
A former Fine Gael minister is to be asked to explain his absence from the Dáil on the day his party colleague lost out on the job of Leas Cheann Comhairle by a single vote.
Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon surprised party colleagues by failing to clock in at Leinster House on Wednesday, as TDs were voting to fill the €121,000-per-year position.
Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher was elected after defeating Fine Gael TD for Kildare North Bernard Durkan by 69 votes to 68.
The verdict comes after six weeks of horse trading following a messy procedure on June 2 last when none of four candidates seeking the job got enough votes.
But if Mr Cannon had attended and voted for his party colleague, Mr Durkan would have won the contest, as he secured more first-preference votes than his Fianna Fáil rival.
Mr Cannon did not respond to a request for comment, but party sources say they believe he will provide a legitimate excuse for his absence.
Mr Durkan accepted that had Mr Cannon turned up, he would have been elected.
"I'm sure we will hear in due course why he wasn't there. Nonethless, I am quite pleased with the result, as I didn't think a Government deputy could win anyway," Mr Durkan said.
The post of Leas Cheann Comhairle carries the same rank as a junior minister, which also brings the right to hire two drivers to drive the office-holder's own car.