Opposition TDs in Dáil walkout over Water Services Bill

Thursday 19 December 2013 23.16
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Micheál Martin said 'debate counts for nothing' at an Opposition news conference (Pic: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall)
Micheál Martin said 'debate counts for nothing' at an Opposition news conference (Pic: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall)
There were unruly scenes in the Dáil  today
There were unruly scenes in the Dáil today
Tommy Broughan refused to take his seat
Tommy Broughan refused to take his seat
Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett suspended the Dáil
Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett suspended the Dáil

Opposition TDs walked out of the Dáil chamber this afternoon in protest over the Water Services Bill 2013.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described the Government's handling of the legislation "as jackboot tactics", saying the Government has "a large majority and it is using it to undermine democracy".

He said debate counts for nothing, amendments count for nothing and "we have had enough of this".

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin accused the Government of "bulldozing the legislation", saying the Opposition is not being given an opportunity to scrutinise it.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said the issue of the guillotine was raised with the Government last week at a meeting of the whips and she added "this is not of our making".

Independent TD Róisín Shortall said they need proper procedures and the Government had "promised a democratic revolution".

Opposition TDs left the Dáil chamber in protest over the bill, which later passed all stages in the Dáil.

A number of minutes later, the comment "I think we should just f***ing let them" was caught on microphones from the Government side of the House.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett earlier suspended the Dáil following a refusal by Tommy Broughan to take his seat.

The former Labour TD tried to intervene during the Order of Business regarding the bill.

He pointed across the chamber at ministers Ruairi Quinn and Pat Rabbitte and said they should be ashamed of themselves.

He said the setting up of Irish Water followed the "disgraceful sale of Bord Gáis Energy".

"Deputy Rabbitte was going for a double", he said, "transferring to the private sector Bord Gáis Energy and setting up the sale of Irish Water."

When he refused to take his seat, the Ceann Comhairle suspended the Dáil for five minutes.