Updated: 01/03/18 : 05:28:27
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Government ‘filibuster’ claim in row with Mac Sharry

THE GOVERNMENT was accused of a filibuster in a lunchtime row with Sligo TD Marc MacSharry yesterday, Wednesday.

The Dáil was suspended for eight minutes after repeated interruptions.

Marc MacSharry likened the Government’s recent get-together in Sligo as a “Goebbels-style launch.”

The reference to the Nazi propaganda master enraged four Cabinet members, two junior ministers, the Chief Whip and several Fine Gael TDs, who all tackled him.

Wheeling Everyone

The Sligo/Leitrim TD has raised the threat hanging over the future of Donegal town Garda Station In his constituency.

Said MacSharry: “This is against the backdrop of our launch of Project Ireland 2040 in Sligo, which cost €45,000. 

“What message are we sending? It is one thing wheeling everyone down for a €45,000 Goebbels-style launch. It is another thing when in reality.....”

Several interruptions of MacSharry’s speech then followed.

‘Disgusting Slur’

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “The Deputy is belittling the Holocaust.”

Health Minister Simon Harris claimed the remark was “an anti-Semitic slur on politicians.” 

Minister Harris told Dáil colleagues: “That is a disgusting slur.”

Resume Seat

Later, Minister Harris was told by Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl : “Will the Deputy please resume his seat.”

Mac Sharry was also ordered to resume his seat after accusing Fine Gael of “stealing taxpayers money.”

Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan also got involved in the spat, ditto some Fine Gael backbenchers.

The remarks, ruled the Ceann Comhairle, were not directed at a person. 

Not Directed

Ruled the Ceann Comhairle: “.....The Goebbels remark that has come from Deputy MacSharry, it was not directed, as I heard it, at any individual.

“If it had been, I would consider that to be deeply offensive,” ruled the Ceann Comhairle

Government Whip Regina Doherty persisted: “(The remark) is not acceptable, a Cheann Comhairle.”

Wasting Time

As the interruptions continued, independent TD Mattie McGrath said: “The Government is filibustering now and wasting time.”

The Ceann Comhairle declined to change his ruling when pressed by Justice Minister Charles Flanagan to call on Deputy MacSharry to withdraw his remark.

He later added: “If the Deputy wants to withdraw his remark he can.”

Meanwhile, Minister Flanagan said decisions on the Garda Station In Donegal town were an “operational matter.”

Link to Dail Debate (pages 18 to 22).