Friday 23 February 2018

TDs to take three-month holiday this summer

Richard Boyd-Barrett. Photo: Tom Burke
Richard Boyd-Barrett. Photo: Tom Burke

Kevin Doyle, Cormac McQuinn and Barry Lennon

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are on a collision course over Taoiseach Enda Kenny's plan to allow TDs take almost three months off over the summer.

Mr Kenny told his TDs last night the Dáil will go into recess on July 7 and will not sit again until mid-September.

This is despite the fact a new Government was only formed on May 6, more than three months after the Dáil was dissolved for the General Election. The Fine Gael parliamentary party heard that due to repair works to be carried out on Leinster House over the summer, they would not have to be back for sittings until mid-September.

However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has indicated that his party may not support the minority government on the issue.

"It's a surprise because it hasn't been communicated to me. I think it's too early and it's too long," he said.

Mr Martin said he will be having "further discussions" on the matter with other parties "and the Government as well".

He said he had spoken to the Ceann Comhairle and the Clerk of the Dáil two weeks ago and they indicated that the Dáil would rise in the middle of July "around the 18th".

"The clerk did explain about the structural problems with the old part of Leinster House. From his perspective it required urgent remedial works in terms of securing it," Mr Martin added.

Fianna Fáil did help the Government win a vote on water charges in the Dáil last night, by abstaining on amendments made to a Sinn Féin motion.

It was the first time, apart from the election of the Taoiseach and ministers, that Fine Gael needed the help of Mr Martin's party to win a Dáil vote.

The Sinn Féin motion sought the immediate abolition of water charges and Irish Water.

But the Government won the vote by 59 to 38.

The Anti-Austerity Alliance's Richard Boyd-Barrett attacked Fianna Fáil for abandoning its "General Election promises" to scrap the body.

He said the motion specifically matched the wording of Fianna Fáil's pre-election pledges.

Earlier, outside Leinster House, Paul Murphy criticised a number of Independent TDs in Government in front of 200 anti-Irish Water around protesters.

"We already know the motion is unlikely to pass because political forces who were voted on a platform to end water charges and Irish Water are going to vote against or abstain," Mr Murphy said.

"That goes for John Halligan, that goes for Katherine Zappone, that goes for Finian McGrath and that goes for Fianna Fáil."

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe hit out at Opposition TDs for tabling the bill.

"There has to be evidence of a new attitude to make new politics work... This (vote) is nothing about water, nothing about water services."

He said the motion was "the worst of old politics masquerading as something new".

Irish Independent

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