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Party leaders discuss 'doomsday scenario' as the consensus on response to crisis shatters

Hugh O'Connell


  

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Grateful: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris met Alone chief executive Seán Moynihan during their visit to the charity’s offices in Dublin to thank the organisation’s staff for helping older people. Photo: Frank McGrath

Grateful: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris met Alone chief executive Seán Moynihan during their visit to the charity’s offices in Dublin to thank the organisation’s staff for helping older people. Photo: Frank McGrath

Grateful: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris met Alone chief executive Seán Moynihan during their visit to the charity’s offices in Dublin to thank the organisation’s staff for helping older people. Photo: Frank McGrath

It has already been dubbed "the doomsday scenario" and last night it was discussed on the margins of a meeting of party leaders in Government Buildings.

It centres on what happens if Dáil Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl and President Michael D Higgins become incapacitated as a result of the coronavirus. With no Leas Ceann Comhairle as yet elected by this Dáil, the Presidential Commission, which performs the functions of Mr Higgins in the event he is unable to, would not be able to sit. It is the very definition of a constitutional crisis.

Last night, the Taoiseach is understood to have approached Independent TD Denis Naughten, who unsuccessfully challenged Mr Ó Fearghaíl last month, about becoming the Dáil's deputy chairman temporarily. "It's a doomsday scenario," said a source. "The proposal was to set aside standing orders until the end of September and appoint an agreed Leas Ceann Comhairle until then."