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TD calls for end to daily Dail prayer

THE daily Dail prayer is facing calls for its abolition -- almost 80 years after it was introduced.

It is said at the start of Dail proceedings by Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett -- and calls on TDs to be inspired and assisted by God in their actions.

Labour Dublin North Central TD Aodhan O Riordain called yesterday for it to be axed -- just a day after the publication of the Cloyne Report.

He complained that some TDs were finding it difficult to stand up for the prayer.

"If we are serious about breaking the link between church and State, we should not start proceedings in this House every day with a prayer," he said.

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who was representing the Government in the Dail yesterday, made no response to Mr O Riordain's call.

According to the Oireachtas Commission, the matter would have to be considered by the Dail's Committee on Procedure and Privileges. If it recommended that the prayer be abolished, the Government would have to back the necessary changes to the Dail's standing orders.

The daily prayer was first introduced in the Dail on July 14, 1932 following a motion from two Fianna Fail TDs, Denis Allen and Patrick Little.

On its first day, Independent Labour TD Richard Anthony provoked a Dail row when he tried to speak about it. He said he hoped members would be able to live up to it -- but was shouted down. "Of course I will not be listened to by the hooligans," he said.

Mr O Riordain is not the first to call for an end to the daily prayer -- which is also recited at the start of each Seanad sitting.

Senator David Norris said two years ago that he deplored the fact that sittings of the Seanad always began with a prayer.

"It's a rigmarole, it means nothing, and we should be alert to the fact that there are atheists, agnostics, Jews and Muslims, and I just think it makes a mockery of the whole thing, to invoke Jesus Christ as the source of our doings here," he said at the time.

Irish Independent