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12.46 2 Apr 2020


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People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has said it's crucial the Dáil continues to meet during the coronavirus emergency.

It comes as TDs remain split over whether a scheduled Dáil sitting today should go ahead.

A reduced number of TDs - with no more than 30% allowed attend - are due to sit to hear statements on health and social protection in relation to the COVID-19 crisis.

However, a Junior Minister has written to the Dáil's Business Committee trying to get today's planned sitting cancelled.

Patrick O'Donovan has argued the risk attached to all those who would attend Leinster House far outweighs the reasons for the meeting.

The Labour Party, meanwhile, is boycotting the sitting - with leadership hopeful Aodhán Ó Ríordáin calling it "grandstanding nonsense".

He claimed that "every TD knows what ‘Statements in the House’ really means - filling in time".

Deputy Ó Ríordáin suggested that sitting today with no legislation to debate or pass "puts staff in harm’s way unnecessarily".

Deputy Boyd Barrett, however, has argued it's crucial the Dáil continues to meet in a time of emergency.

He said that any moves from the Government to suspend the Dáil sitting during this crisis should be strongly resisted, adding that the caretaker government needs to be held to account.

Speaking this morning, the People Before Profit TD said: "There has to be a transmission mechanism for the concerns and questions of the public, in order for the public health measures to be effective.

"I completely reject what Aodhán Ó Ríordáin was saying.

"TDs who are supposed to be messengers to the Dáil can bring those concerns, questions and issues before Government and get Government to respond to them."

Deputy Boyd Barrett noted that he’s open to the Dáil meeting by teleconference for health and safety reasons, but that it’s vital TDs meet to hold the government to account.

Reporting by Sean Defoe and Stephen McNeice
Image: Richard Boyd Barrett and Bríd Smith on the Plinth outside Leinster House this morning. Picture: Sean Defoe

 


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