The Dáil’s summer term ended in a bitter row in the chamber over speaking time late last night.
The Government approved a motion that will give its TDs more time during Dáil debates.
Opposition TDs will still get the same time but will be pushed further down the order of the speakers’ list.
A quiet evening in the Convention Centre had been expected as the Dáil headed into its summer recess, however many TDs fiercely opposed the move that will give more speaking time for the Government and Sinn Féin.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he was embarrassed to be a member of the Dáil: “I’m embarrassed to a member of this chamber tonight quite frankly because of the behaviour of what I’ve seen from some of the parties here.”
“I want people at home to listen to the number of times I’m going to be interrupted when I just try to say a few words in this chamber, because of the arrogance and nastiness and abusiveness of the smaller parties and the far-left parties in this house.”
Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin had a shouting match with some opposition TDs during the heated debate:
“The blatant lies that have been coming out of certain quarters in this house today, saying that speaking time is being cut, it’s not, the same people want to deny up to 50 Government TDs of seven minute slots in in three and a half hours. That’s what this is about.
“They should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. It’s a disgrace… you are the ones trying to gag fellow TDs.”
TDs could be heard raising their voices in reaction to his words, while there was bell ringing in an attempt to restore order.
“You don’t have a monopoly on moral authority in here, all of us have our mandates, all of us were elected by the people of our constituencies,” he added.
People Before Profit’s Richard Boyd Barrett slammed the plans from the government, calling it “an abuse of the Government’s majority, sickeningly.”
Independent TD Mattie McGrath took issue with Deputy Brendan Griffin’s statement:
“You have the heavy-boot boys back again in Fine Gael, we had [them] in… ’73 to ’77, and they’re back again. You see the new heavy gang – Deputy Griffin from Kerry… a new bully, who’s going to bully us.
“They might silence us here, but they won’t silence the people out there. They’re outraged about what’s going on in this house.”