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Sunday 19 November 2017

Reform Alliance TDs miss almost 60pc of all Dail votes

Fionnan Sheahan, Group Political Editor

REFORM Alliance TDs missed three out of every five Dail votes last year after voting against Fine Gael on the abortion legislation.

Despite departing the Coalition on the single issue of abortion, the Fine Gael rebels have declined to vote on almost 60pc of the votes from the time of their move to the end of last year.

Usually, an absence rate of about 20pc would be considered high for a TD in a Government.

The new group is hosting its first conference, described as a "Monster Rally", tomorrow.

The group has got about 1,000 members of the public registered for the Reform Conference and expects 500 people to attend.

Central to the group's philosophy is the reform of the political system.

But in an example of missing an important vote, three of the group – Lucinda Creighton, Denis Naughten and Terence Flanagan – were absent for the vote on the abolition of the Bereavement Grant. Peter Mathews and Billy Timmins voted against the measure in the Budget.

The voting record of the members of the group is inconsistent – with Ms Creighton not voting in 53 out of 74 votes, but Mr Mathews only absent from 24 of these votes.

Ms Creighton defended the group's voting record.

"We don't vote on debates we're excluded from. We abstain even when in the House or Chamber," she said.

Ms Creighton only voted once out of 30 votes in the months of November and December.

She voted on the Finance Bill, but was absent for votes on legislation including the Local Government Bill, Social Welfare Bill, Child and Family Agency Bill and the Health Insurance Bill.


Billy Timmins said many of the votes in the Dail were on procedural matters and were not important.

"Our voting record would be far worse than many in Fine Gael and will continue to be so. We don't participate in any of the procedural gimmick votes that take place," he said.

"By and large, on important legislation, we do vote. The speaking time we are allocated as a group, we use up," he said.

Denis Naughten also said he did not vote on debates he cannot participate in.

He cited procedural votes in the Dail this week, including on whether Independent TD Mattie McGrath should be removed from an Oireachtas committee, as examples of votes he stayed away from.

"I am happy to stand over it. It is a poor reflection on anyone's participation in the Dail measuring it on whether you have voted on Mattie McGrath being expelled," he said.

Mr Naughten said his voting record, speaking record, numbers of votes tabled and participation in the Dail was better than many of other TDs.

Irish Independent

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