26 September 2023

IRELAND: PS head critical of Dáil sitting

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Ireland’s most senior Public Servant has taken the country’s Dáil (Parliament) to task for holding sittings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secretary General of the Government, Martin Fraser (pictured) has written to Clerk of the Dáil, Peter Finnegan stating that “everyone in the country has been asked stay at home, subject to the limited exceptions which have been published by the Government”.

He also said he was “sure” this public health advice would be uppermost in the minds of Parliamentary officials and Members of the Dáil organising its business.

“Obviously we are all operating under extraordinary constraints which I know you fully recognise.”

“We will, of course, give priority to the national effort to deal with the public health emergency and to protect all of our citizens,” the letter stated.

The Dáil met to hear statements on the Coronavirus crisis and on social protection measures.

While no legislation was debated, the sitting provoked division among some parties, with Sinn Féin and People Before Profit insisting the Dáil must meet.

Others, such as Labour, said Members should not gather at a time of national lockdown.

Sources described Mr Fraser’s letter as a “gentle admonishment”.

Mr Finnegan told Members he had received “communication” from Mr Fraser.

He said, among other issues, Mr Fraser “highlights the extraordinary constraints that everyone is operating under at present”.

Dublin, 2 April 2020

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