5 July 2007 Edition
Dáil : Ó Caoláin challenges Greens to facilitate debate
SF demands full Dáil speaking rights
Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin challenged the Government on Tuesday to provide Dáil time to allow a proper debate on changes to Dáil rules. The Government made rule changes which copperfasten the exclusion of Sinn Féin TDs from full speaking rights in the Dáil, while Sinn Féin proposed changes to allow such full access. The Government put through its motion without debate. Ó Caoláin challenged the Green Party to prevail on its Government partners to allow an open debate.
Ó Caoláin said:
“The Government is asking us to approve a significant change to Standing Orders without debate. The Sinn Féin Deputies cannot accept the taking of this motion without debate. We have a motion of our own to change Standing Orders to guarantee adequate speaking rights to all Deputies and all parties represented here.
“The need for our motion to change Standing Orders is starkly illustrated by the fact that we cannot get Dáil time to have it debated because in the absence of a technical group we do not have access to Private Members Time. The Government should have the grace to allow time today for both of these motions to be debated on the floor of the Dáil.
“We will oppose the Government’s proposed changes to Standing Orders as they solidify the situation whereby Fine Gael and Labour deputies are the only Opposition deputies with full speaking rights. This rides roughshod over the rights of those who elected Sinn Féin TDs to this Dáil in the General Election.
“We would remind the Green Party TDs, now in Government with Fianna Fáil and the PDs, that in the last Dáil they called for the Standing Orders to be changed to allow five Deputies to form a Technical Group. The very least they should do now is to prevail upon their Government partners to allow Dáil time for this whole issue to be debated openly. That will allow representatives of Fianna Fáil, the PDs and the Green Party to defend their position and to explain to the Irish people why they are not prepared to allow full and adequate speaking rights to all opinion in this Dáil. The Green Party in particular has in the past won a reputation for openness, transparency and a democratic approach. Let us have that now by facilitating a debate and by changing Standing Orders to reflect the diverse nature of this Dáil.”