Voting underway for role of Ceann Comhairle as both candidates pitch distinct mandates

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Both candidates for the role of Ceann Comhairle in the new Dáil have made their pitch speeches for election.

With the 33rd Dáil now officially in session, both Denis Naughten and Sean Ó Fearghaíl have had their say, each opting for a distinct mandate.

Roscommon TD Mr Naughten was the first to speak, following the reading into the record of the names of all new deputies by clerk of the Dáil Peter Finnegan.

Mr Naughten said he would be running for the role on a platform of public accountability.

“I’ve been in Cabinet and on the back benches, in government and in opposition,” he said. “I understand every perspective in this house because I’ve lived it.”

“The reason I’m putting my name forward is because one of the consistent messages that I received on the doorsteps was the public frustration with accountability in the public service.”

“Getting a straight answer to straight questions is becoming more difficult in Dáil Eireann,” he said, citing the example of inscrutable parliamentary question answers.

“The disrespect of a single sentence PQ reply, or referring a member to a website,” he said is “a far cry from the required accountability to Dáil Eireann”.

He said further that the EU General Data Protection Regulation is now being used as a means to “avoid answering legitimate questions of TDs”.

“I humbly ask you for the opportunity to preside over (the Dáil) as your advocate and as your servant,” Mr Naughten concluded.

Sean Ó Fearghaíl
Sean Ó Fearghaíl

Mr Ó Fearghaíl by contrast pointed to his record as Ceann Comhairle over the past four years, arguing that the previous Dáil had operated “in a more collegial fashion than ever before” under his watch.

“We achieved change by working collaboratively,” he said, adding that the business committee established under his aegis had succeeded in bringing consensus to the parliament’s weekly agendas.

He further cited the establishment of the Irish Women’s Caucus, and all party committees on health, housing, and the traveller community as proof of how the Dáil had operated effectively during his term in the chair.

“I seek your support this afternoon to continue that collegial approach to addressing our problems,” Mr Ó Fearghaíl said.

“My ambition is to serve the members, rather than become a slave to any system.”

“I hope you will honour me by allowing me to continue, for now, to chair this assembly,” he said.

With the speeches finished, voting has commenced, a process that will take 100 minutes.



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