| 8.1°C Dublin

Tánaiste 'embarrassed to share the Dáil Chamber with small party bullies'

Close

Attack: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar slammed the smaller parties. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Attack: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar slammed the smaller parties. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Attack: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar slammed the smaller parties. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar launched an extraordinary attack on smaller parties in the Dáil saying he was "embarrassed" to share the Chamber with them.

Amid fractious exchanges over speaking time, Mr Varadkar made the highly unusual step of intervening on behalf of the Government to accuse some TDs of "arrogance and nastiness and abusiveness".

He said: "You shout us down in the same way you bully people online. Day in and day out you try to bully people in here because they come from a larger party or a government party".

The Government parties have moved to change the speaking arrangements in the Dáil so that their backbench TDs can get better speaking times more frequently.

Smaller parties and Independents have fought furiously against the move.

However, Mr Varadkar said he wanted people to understand that opposition parties have 74pc of the speaking time even though they less than half the seats.

"I'm embarrassed to be a member of this Chamber tonight quite frankly because of the behaviour of some of the parties," he said.

During testy exchanges, he added: "I want to people at home to listen to the number of times I'm interrupted when I just try to say a few words in this chamber because of the arrogance and nastiness and abusiveness of the smaller parties and far-left parties in this House.

"They try to dominate this chamber and anytime anyone from Government stands up, anything any minister tries to speak, any backbencher tries to make a point, you shout us down in the same way you bully people online. Day in and day out you try to bully people in here because they come from a larger party or a government party."

Meanwhile, the Dáil was adjourned amid scenes of disorder on the last night of its first session since the election.

The bitter row over future speaking rights forced a ten-minute suspension by new Leas Cheann Comhairle Catherine Connolly after Rise TD Paul Murphy repeatedly refused to resume his seat.

He said attempts to reformulate speaking slots were an effort to marginalise left-wing groups, allowing Government parties to make much of the parliamentary running. He was supported by Socialist Party deputy Mick Barry and by Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit.

At one point, as Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy was attempting to make a point, she called out "Ah, Richard, please".

Lies

Kerry Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin, a former minister and now deputy chief whip, angrily accused splinter group TDs of telling lies about the new arrangements.

He said backbenchers had missed out in the last Dáil and were looking to have speaking rights too, insisting that their popular mandate was no less valid than that of left-wingers

Tipperary Independent Mattie McGrath called on the chair to force Mr Griffin to withdraw the word 'lie,' which is not permissible under standing orders.

But several TDs were on their feet and shouting over each other at this point.

After repeatedly beseeching that TDs pay attention to rulings from the chair, Ms Connolly declared: "People in Ireland are watching this. I would ask you to stop this."

The session was adjourned.

Irish Independent