The Justice Minister has admitted voting on behalf of his colleagues in the Dáil.
It comes as the Ceann Comhairle opens an investigation into revelations that Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins voted six times on behalf of fellow TD Timmy Dooley last Thursday afternoon.
Deputy Dooley was not in the chamber when the votes were cast.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has asked the pair to step down from the party’s front bench while the investigation is carried out.
Meanwhile, the party’s Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers has admitted recording a vote on behalf of its deputy leader Dara Calleary last Thursday.
Deputy Chambers has said she recorded the vote by mistake after sitting in the wrong seat.
She then moved to her own seat and voted again.
She did not correct the record once she realised her mistake. She has said she did not think it necessary as the vote was lost by a wide margin.
"Honestly and genuinely"
On The Pat Kenny Show, Deputy Chambers said she “honestly and genuinely” thought she was in her own seat when she cast the vote.
She said it is commonplace for colleagues to vote on each other’s behalf when they are in the chamber but can’t reach their seat.
“Particularly if you are up in the tier and you might be in the middle of the row,” she said.
“You know, you might shout up to the person beside you, will you press that button for me because you are down on the main floor or on the side having a conversation.
“That does happen regularly, all sides of the house and every voting block to be honest.”
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan admitted voting on behalf of colleagues who were running back to their seats – but insisted that was an “entirely different issue.”
“Oftentimes somebody might be racing down the stairs with three seconds to go and they might say press my button, here I am, or whatever,” he said.
Pressed on whether he had voted on behalf of someone else he said: “I may have done it from time-to-time when somebody was standing beside me or coming in.”
"Not good practice"
He said he accepted that this was “not good practice” but insisted it is “totally different” to the allegations facing the Fianna Fáil deputies.
“It is important that we don’t muddy the waters,” he said.
“What Mr Collins and Mr Dooley are being investigated for is a completely different issue because it seems that one of them has deliberately, with intent, absented themselves from votes and that’s where the illegality is.”
“I notice Ms Chambers said she was sitting in the wrong seat by way of an excuse – I would have thought that all deputies would be aware of their specifically designated seat.
“This is all going to be investigated independently by the Ceann Comhairle. He is going to be assisted by some experts in this regard - but this is a very, very serious issue.”
He warned that the issue “goes to the heart of our democratic process” – with any law that was passed on the basis of a “fraudulent vote” now “subject to challenge.”
You can listen back to the full interview here:
— Newstalk (@NewstalkFM) October 21, 2019