Friday 23 February 2018

'Water rebels' defend walkout during debate

Niall O'Connor and Michael Brennan

OPPOSITION parties and Independent TDs have strongly defended their decision to stage a walkout from the Dail on the final sitting day before the Christmas break.

Over 30 TDs marched out of the chamber in protest against the rushing through of the Water Services Bill, which underpins the establishment of Irish Water.

The Opposition is furious at the Government's decision to 'guillotine' the legislation and argued that the provision of just a few hours' debate was an affront to democracy.

The walkout was led by Fianna Fail TDs who were later followed by Sinn Fein, the Technical Group and some Independents.

In a bizarre end to the Dail term, over 20 of the rebel TDs held a press conference while the debate on the bill was continuing in the chamber.

And just minutes after the TDs left, the remark "I think we should just f***ing let them" was heard from an unidentified government TD.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin branded the debate "a sham" and accused the Government of showing a "fundamental lack of respect for parliamentary democracy".

Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain said the Government was "undermining" the roles of opposition members.

"It is just simply unacceptable what is happening; 12 months ago it was the local property tax and this year it's the local services bill with all of the consequences that that represents," he said.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said that a proper debate on the bill was needed.

However, Micheal Martin came under fire for leading the walkout.

"Micheal Martin was in Cabinet when there was vast amounts of money available and yet what did he do to repair the water infrastructure?" Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said.

Irish Independent

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