Personal Explanation by Members

Deputy Lisa Chambers is the first Member who wishes to address us.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to address the House and make a brief personal statement. On Thursday last I inadvertently sat in the wrong seat in the Dáil during voting time. This was a genuine mistake. I sat in Deputy Dara Calleary's seat which is the seat beside my own. I pressed the button once in error in the first vote. Nobody asked me to do this and when I realised, I immediately moved to my own seat and cast my own vote. The vote was lost by a large number, so I did not inform the teller at the time of the vote cast in error as I genuinely thought it was an insignificant error. I fully accept now that I should have done so at the time and I sincerely apologise to the House and to the public for not doing so. It is an honour and a privilege to serve as a Teachta Dála and I take my responsibilities seriously.

I met with the Clerk of the Dáil in the context of the Ceann Comhairle's report and I fully accept the contents of the report. I thank the Ceann Comhairle, the Clerk of the Dáil and his team for their work in this regard and for their objectivity, balance and professionalism in conducting this inquiry and producing an extensive report, from which I think we can all take something.

I reiterate that mine was a genuine mistake and not something I had intended to do. I apologise for the manner in which I handled that. I want to assure this House and the public that I have learned from my mistake and I am genuinely sorry. Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle.

I thank the Deputy. I call Deputy Timmy Dooley.

I take this opportunity to apologise to you, a Cheann Comhairle, and every Member of the House for what happened here last Thursday. Since 2002, I have been honoured to serve both as a Senator and a Deputy. It has been a privilege to serve in these Houses. With that privilege comes responsibility and I accept that last Thursday I fell short of the responsibility that rests on me as a Member of the House.

I apologise to the House for the fact that when I spoke to Deputy Collins last Thursday, I gave him the impression that I would be in this Chamber during the block voting. I did not ask Deputy Collins to vote for me and I did not inform him that I was leaving the Chamber. I accept and regret that my conduct has led to a controversy that is unwelcome to the House and all of its Members. I should have been here for the block voting because it is one of the most important parts of our function as Deputies. Members of this House will be aware that, in general, my attendance for votes is good. If I had been here, as I am at virtually every Thursday's voting block, none of this would have happened.

I also want to apologise to the House for giving Deputy Collins the impression that I would be in the Chamber during last Thursday's voting. For that, I am very sorry.

I apologise to the Clerk of the Dáil and the other staff who have had to spend a lot of extra time preparing this report, in addition to their regular work in the House.

I met with the Clerk of the Dáil on Tuesday evening as part of the review the Ceann Comhairle commenced on this issue and electronic voting generally. I would like to acknowledge his objectivity and professionalism and that of the team that prepared this report. I have co-operated fully with the investigation and will co-operate also with any statutory process by the Committee on Members' Interests. I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me the time to make this personal statement. Again, I apologise to the Ceann Comhairle and Members on all sides of the House.

I call Deputy Niall Collins.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to make a personal statement on last Thursday's voting. I sincerely apologise for my role in what happened. I apologise to the Ceann Comhairle and all Members of Dáil Éireann. It would never have been my intention to bring such negative and undue attention to our work here. We all understand the immense privilege it is to serve in this House. To the people of Limerick and the wider public I offer my sincere apologies.

Last Tuesday, the Ceann Comhairle informed the House that he had instructed the Clerk of the Dáil to carry out a review. This review and its associated recommendations were discussed here earlier. I wish to state that I fully and openly engaged with the Clerk of the Dáil and his staff in their work in preparing this report. In doing so I confirmed, as the record shows, that I voted for Deputy Dooley a number of times in the electronic voting session on Thursday in the mistaken belief he was still in the Chamber. It was wrong. I fully accept that I should not have done so. The Ceann Comhairle stated last Tuesday and again today that a complaint has been lodged in relation to my actions under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001 and that this is a statutory process to be undertaken by the Committee on Members' Interests. I assure him and all Members that I will fully engage and comply fully with this process.

In conclusion, I reiterate my deep regret and sincere apologies to the Ceann Comhairle and all Members of the House.

I call Deputy Barry Cowen.

As per the details in the Ceann Comhairle's report, last Thursday I was seated in Deputy Collins's seat and he in mine. When the votes were called, I voted for him and he voted for me. I apologise for this informality and carelessness on my part. That carelessness allowed the integrity of the voting system to be questioned. I should have sat in my own seat and cast my own vote. I want to assure the House and the people of Offaly who elected me that I will play my part, with my colleagues, in ensuring the recommendations made in the report are implemented and that we will abide by them, as we should and will be expected to do.