Dáil Éireann - Volume 342 - 11 May, 1983

Financial Resolutions, 1983. - Business of Dáil.

Mr. B. Ahern: During the last division one of our Members was refused his right to vote and was asked to leave the House by the Captain of the Guard. Our clear understanding was that today you asked that Deputy to leave the House because you considered he was being disorderly and he did so. When the division was called and when we could not raise the matter, we were informed that the Deputy was actually put out of the House today. It is our understanding and it is his understanding — I have checked with a number of Members who were present in the House at the time — that when the Deputy was asked to leave he left immediately. We wish to know why he was refused his right to vote in the division.

[1037] An Ceann Comhairle: I have not personally read the transcript but my clear recollection of what happened today was that there was a grave disorder on a Private Notice Question about potatoes. So bad was the disorder that the Chair found it necessary to adjourn the House for 15 minutes. On resuming, the Chair called on Deputy Gregory to read a Private Notice Question which he had been allowed, thereby passing from the item which was the cause of the row.

Deputy Ray Burke stood up and in a polite manner requested permission to put one question. The Chair made it perfectly clear to the Deputy that he could not put the question, that the Chair had passed from the question dealing with potatoes to Deputy Gregory's question. Deputy Burke persisted, and persisted for quite a while, until he reached the stage where he was defying the Chair. The Chair, in the recollection of the Chair, called on Deputy Burke to resume his seat. However, the Deputy declined to do this and persisted to ask this one question, whereupon the Chair ordered the Deputy to leave the House. Deputy Burke did not leave the House. The Chair intimated to him that he would name him. The Chair was actually looking at and was in the process of calling the Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism, Deputy Cluskey, to name him when Deputy Burke left the House. That, in the Chair's opinion, is an accurate account of what happened.

Mr. B. Ahern: I do not want to argue with the Chair about the difference between “ask” and “order” but I think you will accept if you were looking around the House and had intentions in your mind to name him the fact is that you did not name Deputy Ray Burke. The Standing Order No. 51, which I presume is the one you are quoting, asks if a Deputy is put out in that manner he is told he is going for the day's sitting. In this case he was asked, following your interpretation of disorderly, and he left. At no time was he named or at no time was he told that he was not allowed in for the remainder of the day. It seems that the Standing Order was not quoted to [1038] him. This is very unreasonable. While you asked him to leave you are now saying you ordered him out, which is a different interpretation.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is clear that he ordered Deputy Ray Burke to leave the House. The Chair looked and he saw the Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism and he was in the process of asking him to propose Deputy Burke's suspension.

Mr. B. Ahern: You did not ask him. He was ordered to leave the House.

Mr. Haughey: It is too late now, as far as we are concerned, for Deputy Burke to have voted in that last vote. We feel, in the defence of our colleague, that we should protest at him not being allowed to vote. I was in the House at the time. Deputy Burke is a robust debater but I think you will agree that he is not normally a disorderly Deputy. My clear recollection is that right through he persisted in saying that he would accept your ruling. Finally, my recollection is that you asked him to leave and he said: “I will leave at your request”. This side of the House have to say that we are very positive that he was not ordered out of the House in accordance with the terms of Standing Order 51. Therefore, with all due respect, I have to submit to you that you were in error in refusing him to vote on that last occasion. I am not saying that in any carping spirit. The matter is over now and Deputy Burke was not allowed to vote but in his defence I want to say that we regard him as having been badly done by in this matter and that, in fact, as an honourable man, when you asked him to leave, with some protest he did in fact leave of his own free will.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is quite true what Deputy Haughey says that Deputy Ray Burke kept protesting that he would obey the Chair but at the same time declined to obey the Chair. It was only as a last resort, when I asked him to resume his seat and told him to leave the [1039] House and he did not do it that I was in the process of calling on the Minister for Trade, Commerce and Tourism, Deputy Cluskey, to name him.

Mr. Haughey: He left the House.