THE cost of using the Dublin Convention Centre for TDs to try to elect a Taoiseach, while complying with social distancing rules, will run to at least €160,000.
The Dáil’s business committee has signed-off on a proposal for the Dáil to sit in the 8,000-seater venue on Dublin’s North Wall Quay when TDs make their next attempt to elect a Taoiseach once a new Government is formed.
Leinster House authorities had been seeking alternative venues to hold a full sitting of the Dáil to elect a Taoiseach due to the coronavirus restrictions. Recent sittings of the Dáil in Leinster House have been restricted to a maximum of 50 TDs for votes and 20 at any one time during normal debates.
The most-recent sitting last week prompted a boycott from Labour while Fine Gael Ministers Simon Harris, Josepha Madigan, Charlie Flanagan and Patrick O'Donovan all raised objections to the sitting going ahead as there was no legislation to debate and vote on. Opposition TDs forced the sitting in an effort to get answers on Health and Social Protection issues.
The Oireachtas said on Wednesday that while there is no cost for hiring the Convention Centre, there will be an initial €110,000 once-off set up cost primarily relating to equipping the venue's auditorium with microphones for use as a Dáil chamber, as well as broadcasting costs.
Each sitting day will cost approximately €50,000, which means the bill will reach over €200,000 if TDs fail to elect a Taoiseach on the first occasion they meet at the venue.
The Houses of the Oireachtas said that detailed costs for the Dáil sitting at the Convention Centre will not be available until after the sitting takes place.
Dáil Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said: "Following a detailed discussion and consideration of the proposals and costings presented to us today, we have agreed that the Convention Centre is the most appropriate venue available which will allow the 159 democratically elected members of Dáil Éireann to meet and vote on the election of Taoiseach.
“The Committee envisages that other sessions of Dáil Éireann will continue to meet in Leinster House with restricted numbers present. We wish to thank the management and staff of the Convention Centre for their cooperation in enabling this to happen."