Thursday 22 February 2018

TDs face suspension over vote on coursing

Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O'Brien faces suspension from party Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Fein TD Jonathan O'Brien faces suspension from party Photo: Tom Burke
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Two prominent TDs face the prospect of being suspended from the parliamentary party after missing a vote on the issue of hare coursing.

Cork North Central TD Jonathan O'Brien and Dublin North West TD Dessie Ellis are both facing reprimand from the party, the Irish Independent has learned.

The bill itself, tabled by Dublin Central TD Maureen O'Sullivan, proposed a ban on hare coursing and was defeated last week.

Prior to the vote, all TDs came under intense lobbying from pro- and anti-hare coursing groups.

The Sinn Féin leadership decided in advance that the party would oppose the bill and that the whip would be applied to all TDs.

A number of Sinn Féin TDs failed to attend the vote - however, the majority of these had notified the party in advance.

These include Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe, who was in hospital at the time, and Wicklow TD John Brady, who was involved in a court case which ruled in his favour.

However, both Mr O'Brien and Mr Ellis missed the vote without securing permission from party bosses to do so.

It's understood Mr O'Brien, the party's justice spokesperson, was in the chamber but left as he did not want to vote against the bill in question.

Mr Ellis is understood to have failed to alert the party as he was dealing with a personal issue. Neither TD was available for comment last night.

A party spokesman confirmed that any deputy who missed the vote has been reprimanded.

"Those who were not excused, having given prior notice and a valid reason to the party whip, have been reprimanded by the party," the spokesman told the Irish Independent.

Party sources said handing the two TDs a suspension could not be ruled out. The same approach was taken in relation to Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín, who voted against the party in relation to an abortion bill.

But the party's approach in relation to Mr O'Brien and Mr Ellis, who are both loyal Sinn Féin members, will alarm many figures within the party.

Irish Independent

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