Belfast Telegraph

‘Vote-gate’ scandal nasty politics: Micheal Martin

Four front-bench Fianna Fail TDs have apologised after it was revealed they had voted on a colleague’s behalf in the Dail.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has condemned controversy after some TDs voted on behalf of colleagues (PA)
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has condemned controversy after some TDs voted on behalf of colleagues (PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Micheal Martin has branded controversy over voting patterns in the Dail chamber “dirty tricks” by Fine Gael.

Four of Fianna Fail’s front-bench TDs were forced to apologise after it was revealed they had voted on a colleague’s behalf.

An inquiry sparked by revelations in the media that Dail votes had been cast by certain TDs who were not present in the chamber at the time of the ballot recommended no disciplinary action should be taken against offending TDs, but it concluded a wider review of the voting system is needed.

The chamber heard apologies from Lisa Chambers, Niall Collins, Barry Cowen and TD for Clare Timmy Dooley, whose voting pattern was the genesis of the scandal in the media.

Ms Chambers specifically said during a radio interview that she had not voted on a colleague’s behalf before it was revealed she had.

Fianna Fail leader Mr Martin said the pattern reflected “the general malaise of lack of practice”.

He said: “As far as I’m concerned, this is part of a pattern where TDs have been voting for other TDs who are in the chambers.”

That is bad politics. That’s dirty politics, dirty tricks stuff within the bowels of the Fine Gael press office Micheal Martin, Fianna Fail leader

When pushed on whether he had asked Ms Chambers directly if she had voted for her colleague Mr Dooley, Mr Martin said: “No, because I see this as part, we have accepted that there has been a lack of practice generally with all TDs including the Taoiseach who equally said he voted for other colleague.”

Mr Martin went on to decry the controversy as “gotcha” politics.

“It’s bad politics. It’s nasty politics. You (the press) have to do what you have to do, in fairness. If you get it you’re going to have to use it. But I know what Fine Gael are at here,” Mr Martin said.

“This was in the can when the Taoiseach did his interview on Saturday and said ‘Lisa Chambers should be deselected and what is Micheal Martin going to do with Niall Collins and Timmy Dooley?’

“Of course it was in the can and then they do an attack video.

“I’m supposed to believe that’s all coincidence?

“They are very organised, in a very dirty way. That is bad politics. That’s dirty politics, dirty tricks stuff within the bowels of the Fine Gael press office.

“Let them at it but I’m not going down that route.

“Those deputies are hard working deputies.

“No-one can question when they had their front-bench positions that they were in charge of their briefs…

“I think there is an acknowledgement, and it has been corrected in the Dail, and I think there will be further change to make sure proper practice is adhered to in the Dail and even in the chamber no longer now would people be voting for other colleagues.”

PA

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