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Catherine Connolly becomes first female Leas Cheann Comhairle

She defeated Fergus O’Dowd to win the role.

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Leinster House, Dublin, the seat of the Oireachtas, the parliament of Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Leinster House, Dublin, the seat of the Oireachtas, the parliament of Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Leinster House, Dublin, the seat of the Oireachtas, the parliament of Ireland (Brian Lawless/PA)

Independent TD Catherine Connolly has been elected to the position of the Dail’s Leas Cheann Comhairle.

The surprise result saw her beat the Government’s candidate Fergus O’Dowd to the win the position.

Mr O’Dowd was expected to win in the secret ballot with the backing of Government TDs.

The Galway West TD beat her rival with 77 votes to 74.

She is the first woman to hold the role in the Dail’s history.

Meanwhile a Sinn Fein TD has said that giving “super junior ministers” a pay rise when thousands of people have lost their jobs during the pandemic sends out the wrong signal.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath has moved to ensure that three “super junior ministers” who sit at the Cabinet table get an additional allowance worth more than 16,000 euro.

The recipients are Climate Change and Transport Minister Hildegarde Naughton, Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers and Agriculture Minister Pippa Hackett.

Sinn Fein TD Mairead Farrell said that unless the “super junior ministers” have “superpowers”, they do not need such an increase.

Speaking in the Dail on Thursday, she said: “An increase of 16,000 euro is massive.

“Are these ministers called super juniors because they have some kind of superpowers?

“Because, unless they do, I don’t see why the Department thinks they need 16,000 euro extra in income.”

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty called on Mr McGrath to explain to the public why the pay increases are justified.

Mr Doherty said: “How in the name of God is it appropriate at this time to actually increase the salary of a junior minister who is already on more than 100,000 euro?

“Sixteen thousand euro is a huge amount of money and it sends out all the wrong signals.

“It is something that was opposed by Fianna Fail when they were in opposition a few years ago.”

Mr McGrath was unable to attend the Dail due to his attendance at a Cabinet meeting so could not reply in person.

Mr Doherty described his absence as an “insult to the Dail”.

PA