Dail break ‘excuse for government to do runner’
The Irish government was accused yesterday of closing the Dail for 12 weeks to “run away” from the country's problems.
TDs left for their summer holidays yesterday and will not return until September 29 giving them a three-month break from Dail sittings.
Over the past decade, the Dail has usually returned from its summer recess on the last Wednesday of September. And despite angry protests from opposition TDs, the government comfortably continued this tradition by winning a Dail vote on the issue with 74 votes to 68.
The break will bring an end to one of the most turbulent Dail sittings in years, a time which was characterised by the passing of NAMA, the recapitalisation of Anglo Irish Bank and a spate of resignations.
During noisy exchanges, Fine Gael deputy leader Dr James Reilly said the government had “shamed” all politicians by proposing such a lengthy break.
“The government wants to run away for three months while the rest of the country must face the reality of 452,000 people unemployed and bankers running amok,” he said.
“If this House were a company it would be laughed out of court for taking holidays at such a time. The government shames us all by doing this.
“The people are outraged and aghast at what is happening. They cannot fathom how the house can be so detached from the realities of the lives of ordinary people.”
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore added that the 12-week holiday was “exceptional”, even for the government.
Last year the Dail returned on September 16 to debate NAMA, and in 2002 it came back on September 4 to pass legislation to hold a referendum on the Nice Treaty.
Mr Gilmore argued people would have to go back as far as the year 2003, when the Dail resumed on September 30, to find a later resumption.
“The reason the government is doing this is that it will have three months in which it will not run the risk of being defeated in a vote in this House,” he said.
“It will be three months ... serving out its notice in which it will not be challenged or questioned in the house about any of its proposals.”
The Dail, he said, should come back for one day at the beginning of September to allow the writ for three by-elections to be moved and the Children's Referendum Bill to be brought forward.
Sinn Fein TD Caoimhghin O Caolain added that the Dail should be dissolved to hold a General Election, rather than merely breaking for the summer.