TÁNAISTE Leo Varadkar made an extraordinary attack on smaller parties in the Dáil and there were many furious contributions from TDs during a heated last session before the summer recess.
The stormy Dáil debate over speaking rights saw outbursts from TDs across the political spectrum. While it’s rare to see so much anger in one sitting, it’s far from the only time tempers flared. Here are five incidents in recent years where TDs lost the plot.
Very few people will remember what sparked former Green TD Paul Gogarty’s anger at ex-Labour TD Emmet Stagg. But everyone recalls his infamous 2009 ‘F-bomb’ attack on the Opposition politician and acting Dáil chairman Michael Kennedy’s shocked reaction.
The exchange – during a debate on a Social Welfare Bill began with Mr Stagg questioning Mr Gogarty’s sincerity. Cue the explosive response from Mr Gogarty saying: "With all due respect, in the most unparliamentary language, f*** you Deputy Stagg. F*** you."
He immediately withdrew the remarks and apologised but incident tops the list of bad-tempered Dáil spats and lives on in infamy.
The Healy-Rae brothers took to their feet and engaged in a full throated shouting match with Fianna Fáil’s Marc McSharry in 2018.
As last night’s row showed, few issues rile TDs as much as Dáil speaking rights and Mr MacSharry took issue with Michael Healy-Rae getting up to speak as the Dáil implemented a short-lived number card system for whose turn it is.
Mr Healy-Rae insisted he had a card but Mr MacSharry chipped in: “We have 44 Deputies here but we have... Ban Ki-Moon Healy-Rae up every day, undermining this country's…” Mr Healy-Rae roared back “this is outrageous” and his brother Danny roared “Don’t call us names” and “we will take no rubbish from Deputy MacSharry”.
As the Healy-Raes went ballistic, Mr MacSharry poured fuel on the flames quipping: “This is a joke. It is ‘Strictly Come Dancing’” – a reference to the number cards – “and they are the half-time performers.” The Leas Cheann Comhairle told him to “control yourself” to which Mr MacSharry replied: ” For Christ's sake, control them.” The Dáil, unsurprisingly, ended up being suspended.
Then Sinn Féin deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald staged a four-hour ‘sit-in’ back in 2014 after a Dáil vote to suspend her when she wouldn’t take her seat. The farcical scenes unfolded following heated exchanges between former Tánaiste Joan Burton and Ms McDonald at Leaders' Questions.
Ms McDonald was furious after Ms Burton failed to answer questions over water charges. The Sinn Fein politician then refused to take her seat - prompting the Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett to tell her to leave the House. She refused, insisting she wanted answers to her questions.
A majority of TDs voted to eject Ms McDonald but she refused to leave. Business was held up for four hours because of the sit-in, and then abandoned entirely until the following week.
Independents4Change TD Joan Collin’s outburst came during the debates following last year’s Budget. There was just one Fine Gael TD and a scattering of Fianna Fáil deputies in the Dáil during her contribution. She criticised the two parties saying: “You’re not here, you’re not listening, you don’t care and to put it bluntly for the amount of phone calls I’ve got from constituents in the last 24 hours “you just really don’t give a f***”.
Leas Cheann Comhairle Pat ’The Cope’ Gallagher reminded her that it’s “not customary” to use a “four letter word”. Ms Collins withdrew her remarks saying she is angry about crises in health, housing and homelessness and claiming the Budget didn’t address those issues.
The 2014 sit-in wasn’t the only time Mary Lou McDonald was told to leave the Dáil Chamber. It came after a bitter row between her and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in 2017. Mr Varadkar was criticising Sinn Féin for not compromising with the DUP to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland with Ms McDonald making numerous interruptions.
Acting chairperson – Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell - warned her he’d ask her to leave the House. He attempted to move on to the next item of business as she continued to interrupt and Mr Varadkar claimed she was “very cranky”. Ms McDonald accused him of being “facile and dismissive on important issues.”
Mr Farrell told her: “You’re on your feet you might as well leave”. She then left her seat and headed towards the chamber door before stopping in front of Mr Varadkar to continue the row. Mr Farrell said she was “disturbing the House” adding “please leave”. She responded: “I am leaving Cathaoirleach”.