I would like to thank the Ceann Comhairle, the Clerk of the Dail & his officials for the speedy manner they have acted in addressing what is a very serious matter for this house and its members.
The report produced today and laid before the house confirms many of the facts from last Thursday.
It confirms clearly that on Thursday 17th of October, two members of the FF front bench (Dep Niall Collins and Dep Lisa Chambers) voted for colleagues (Dep Timmy Dooley & Dep Dara Calleary) who were not present in the chamber
The report also confirms that at no point did any of the 4 deputies involved attempt to correct the record for these erroneous votes.
I have read the report and taken from it some of the key facts which are now confirmed
- Over a period of 56 minutes 8 votes were taken in the Dail;
- Dep Timmy Dooley left the chamber a minute after the first vote was called but nine minutes before that first vote actually took place, and he never returned;
- In the block of 8 votes that followed Dep Niall Collins sat in the voting chair of Dep Barry Cowan;
- Dep Collins voted for Dep Dooley (who wasn’t present in the chamber) for the first 6 votes;
- He also voted for Dep Barry Cowan for the full 8 votes.
- Dep Cowan voted for Dep Collins for the full 8 votes.
- Dep Dooley approached Dep Collins before he left the chamber where they had a brief conversation in front of another colleague. During this conversation Dep Dooley nodded to his own voting seat.
- Dep Dooley confirmed he didn’t vote in any of the 8 votes as he never returned to the chamber. When asked why he didn’t return, he indicated that he had to return to his office to make a call. He stated that he should have gone back but that he left the complex. When asked whether he left during the voting block, Dep Dooley responded “it probably was”. When asked whether he had contacted Dep Collins after leaving the complex, he stated that he hadn’t.
I am sure if Dep Dooley and Collins produced their phone record to the committee on members interests these comments could be confirmed.
- When questioned on why he didn’t continue to press Dep Dooleys voting button Dep Collins stated “I don’t know, I can’t explain that”.
- When questioned again he said “I can’t give an explanation. It is an obvious question but I can’t give an explanation”.
The report also confirms facts surrounding the other voting irregularity.
- Dep Lisa Chambers voted for herself and Dep Dara Calleary who wasn’t present in the chamber, for the first vote
- She then subsequently voted for herself only, in the next 7 votes
- Dara Calleary was not present for the first 5 votes but then returned before vote 6.
- Dep Chamber stated that she told Dep Calleary of her mistake when he entered the chamber
- At no stage did Dep Chambers or Dep Calleary make any attempt to amend the record for the first vote by notifying the tellers of the error.
As the Ceann Comhairle said earlier the events of last Thursday are stark and unpalatable.
Errors, which we all make, should be admitted and learned from.
There are many people outside of this house who would find it hard to believe many of the accounts included in the report.
I myself, believe the facts as now confirmed in this report leave a number of unanswered questions.
- Michael Martin stated at the weekend that he did not think the explanations from Deputies Dooley and Collins were acceptable – what does he think now?
- Why did Deputy Collins tell journalists he didn’t know anything about voting for Deputy Dooley when queried about it just one day after he had deliberately voted for Deputy Dooley six times?
- After voting for Dep Timmy Dooley in six votes for more than 35 minutes, why did Deputy Collins not vote for Dep Dooley in the last two votes?
- What made Dep Collins think Dep Dooley was back in the chamber, when he knew he had left, didn’t see him come back and couldn’t have seen him anywhere in the chamber?
- In the report, Deputy Dooley claims he told Deputy Collins: ‘I’ll see you at the vote, but I have to make a call”. Why did he tell Deputy Collins this? Is Deputy Collins accustomed to Deputy Dooley being absent for votes?
- Is Deputy Dooley concerned that Deputy Collins may have voted for him on other occasions when he was not in the chamber? Has he ascertained whether he needs to correct the Dáil record for any other votes?
- Is it credible that Dep Willie O’Dea was not aware of the details of the conversation.
- Dep Chambers said she mistakenly pressed the wrong button when she voted for Dep Colleary and that this was ‘very different’ to what Dep Dooley and Dep Collins did. Does she accept the version of events given by the two Deputies to the inquiry?
- When Dep Chambers told Dep Calleary she had ‘mistakenly’ voted for him, why did he not then try to correct the Dail record himself?
- Does Micheál Martin think Dep Barry Cowen has questions to answer in relation to other votes?
- Does Micheál Martin back the efforts of Fianna Fail to make accusations about Fine Gael ministers which are utterly unproven?
I hope the Deputies involved and their party leader will address this house and answer these questions for us here today.