Independent TD Mattie McGrath has expressed his continuing sense of frustration at the behaviour of Government TDs during leaders question in the Dáil. Deputy McGrath was speaking recently after he said he was effectively shouted down during his allotted time, as leader of the Technical Group, to question the Taoiseach,
“It has become common practice that leaders of the opposition are constantly heckled and insulted in what can only be described as very juvenile behaviour. We are already extremely constrained by the very tight speaking time in which to ask our two questions, but on top of that I have found one also has to endure schoolboy jeering from the Government benches regardless of the seriousness of the issue being raised.”
“In recent times the Ceann Comhairle has made repeated efforts to restrain the unseemly spectacle of elected representatives jostling loudly to interrupt other speakers. It is a practice that has been the cause of a noticeable increase in his frustration at TDs who have persistently ignored his rulings on the matter.
“While I make every attempt to appeal for the protection of the Chair during these spectacles, I have often found however that too literal an application of the speaking time by the Chair only serves to exasperate the sense of frustration. Some account must be given when a Deputy has to wait for silence to be simply heard, never mind responded too,” Deputy McGrath said.
Deputy McGrath was attempting to question the Taoiseach about the ‘remuneration packages’ currently enjoyed by the Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher and incoming governor Archie Kane. Instead of being allowed to finish his remarks, Deputy McGrath said he was heckled and eventually silenced by the Chair who ruled that he had gone over time.
“While I realise and respect the fact that many Deputies feel passionately about the issues that are raised on any given day, it is simply not acceptable that that enthusiasm should spill over in to openly disrespecting those who have opposing views. I am well used to this side of politics, however the electorate of South Tipperary have mandated me to raise issues of vital national importance and deserve to be heard through me. In light of that I would call on all members of the House to show more respect to the people who put us here, and stop this silly banter which does no one any credit,” said Deputy McGrath.