Updated: 08/02/18 : 05:26:23
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Dáil halted in row involving Mac Sharry - Video

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

THE DÁIL was suspended for seven minutes in a row and slagging match involving Sligo TD Marc MacSharry at lunchtime yesterday, Wednesday. Video below.

Ostensibly, the row erupted over the use, on trial to Easter, of a new cards system to ask questions in the Dáil. Only twenty are issued each day.

But Deputy Chair Pat The Cope Gallagher said in a statement afterwards that the row and suspension, which he proposed, was not about the cards.

Said Cope: “Today, the reason I had to suspend had nothing to do with cards - absolutely nothing.”

Refused Permission

Another Sligo TD Tony McLoughlin was later refused permission to ask a question because he did not have a card.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has labeled the new system “bingo cards.”

TDs Eugene Murphy and Aengus O Snodaigh both suggested “red cards” might be needed in Dáil rows.

Post Offices

Deputy MacSharry wanted to speak re: “Questions on Promised Legislation,” which deals with the Programme for Government.

He later queried Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the McKinsey consultancy report, not yet completed, into the future of rural post offices.

Said MacSharry: “I want to know what is going to happen. In my constituency, we have Ballygawley and, most recently, Easkey.

Death Row

“But  there are ones in every constituency and county that effectively are on death row with people wondering whether their local service will close,” said MacSharry.

The row erupted when the Sligo TD, who had a card, complained loudly as Michael Healy Rae asked a supplementary on a query raised by his brother, Danny.

That has been the standard Dáil practice ie before the trial system with cards, the Dáil later heard.

However, the Unrevised transcript of yesterday’s Dáil row suggests the Deputy Chair did ask Michael Healy Rae to “show” his card before speaking.

  The Healy-Rae brothers, Danny and Michael, arguing with Marc Mac Sharry. Photo: Screen shot Dáil TV

Two Warnings

The slagging match between the Healy Rae brothers and Marc MacSharry got personal about the Sligoman seeking votes in Kerry to be elected to the Seanad. 

However, the Dáil was suspended when Marc MacSharry ignored repeated warnings from Leas Ceann Comhairle.

The unrevised record of the Dáil, published online last night, suggests the Sligo TD ignored up to half a dozen cautions by the Deputy Chair.

The Dáil was suspended from 1.17pm to 1.24pm and when it resumed the Leas Ceann Comhairle addressed the issue:-

“I want to refer to the reason for the suspension which I proposed. Let me tell the House.

“Members who have been here for many years will realise, that what I was doing is established practice, irrespective of cards or no cards. 

“In regard to the cards, it is a pilot scheme until Easter, when it will be reviewed. 

“Today, the reason I had to suspend had nothing to do with cards - absolutely nothing.

 “If there is a related question, then it is custom and practice that it is taken. 

No Favouritism

“It was not a question of me showing favouritism to anybody,” concluded the statement by the Acting Chair.

Link to Dáil transcript, see section titled “Questions on Promised Legislation,” pages 18-22.