Belfast Telegraph

Two Fianna Fail TDs stand down from frontbench over voting controversy

Timmy Dooley said he was absent from the chamber last Thursday, when six votes were recorded in his name.

Timmy Dooley (Niall Carson/PA)
Timmy Dooley (Niall Carson/PA)

By Cate McCurry, PA

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has asked Timmy Dooley and Niall Collins to stand down temporarily from the party frontbench following the Dail vote controversy.

An investigation has been launched after the senior Fianna Fail TD claimed Mr Collins voted for him while he was not in the Dail.

Mr Dooley said he was absent from the chamber last Thursday, when six votes were recorded in his name.

The Clare TD said his colleague Mr Collins voted on his behalf.

Asked whether he accepts that explanation, Mr Martin replied: “No, I don’t think it’s acceptable.

“I have spoken to both deputies this morning and I have asked them, without prejudice and pending the outcome of the report, that they would step down from the Fianna Fail frontbench.

“They have both agreed to do that.

“I think that underlines the seriousness of which I take this issue and I think it’s important that the Ceann Comhairle’s (House Speaker) investigation gets under way.

“They have both assured me that they will co-operate fully with the Ceann Comhairle in relation to the particular incident.

“I’m not going to get into any further details about anybody else.

“This has happened and the Ceann Comhairle has sought a report on the wider issue on the integrity of the voting system within Leinster House and that’s something I fully support.”

On Saturday the Ceann Comhairle released a statement saying he has a duty to ensure that the public can have total confidence in the Dail’s proceedings.

“I have asked the clerk of the Dail to prepare a report on the conduct of the votes for my urgent attention,” he added.

Speaking to Clare FM on Saturday, Mr Dooley said he had to leave the chamber to take a phone call.

He added: “Yesterday (Friday) I was told my vote was recorded.

“I understand from my colleague, Niall Collins, who was sitting beside my seat, pressed my voting button under the mistaken belief that I was at the back of the chamber on my phone.”

The Irish Independent reported that Mr Dooley voted in the Dail six times last Thursday, however footage shows he was absent during that time.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock called for Mr Dooley to “urgently explain” what happened.

He said: “One of the most important jobs of a TD is voting on legislation in the Dail.

“It is a responsibility and a privilege we bear as elected public representatives.

“It is extremely concerning to read in the Irish Independent today that deputy Timmy Dooley was recorded as voting six times on Thursday of this week, when he was not present in the Dail chamber.

“Voting in the Dail is very straightforward, as we are all assigned a seat from which we vote.

“The notion that any TD could be recorded as voting while absent from the chamber is very worrying.

“It is important that deputy Dooley and Fianna Fail issue a statement outlining all facts on how this could have occurred.”

Sinn Fein TD Maurice Quinlivan has urged the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure and Privilege to investigate.

He also called for last Thursday’s Dail votes to be retaken.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that Fianna Fail TDs think they can act with such disregard for the rules and show such a level of arrogance by voting in the name of another TD not present in the Dail chamber,” he added.

PA

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