An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

Our first item for consideration is the Order of Business for today and for Wednesday morning of next week. As Members know, the House has agreed that, during the duration of the Covid-19 emergency only, the rapporteur's report on the Order of Business shall not be read out but shall be taken as read. Accordingly, there is only one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to?

The Ceann Comhairle knows that I already made this point to the Business Committee, but I want to formally put it on the record. I am not at all happy that the Dáil is only sitting one day this week or that there is a similar plan for it to sit only one day next week. I do not see the reason or justification for scaling back a Dáil that is already significantly scaled back. It has sat far less recently, when so many pressing issues are facing our country. It seems that the only reason we are not having a Dáil sitting tomorrow or next week is because the two major parties and their prospective coalition partners in the Green Party do not want to be scrutinised on the programme for Government document, a document which, frankly, is a deeply disappointing failure to give effect to the demands for change expressed by the electorate on 8 February. I simply do not see the justification.

There are many things to debate. We are facing the possibility of mass unemployment as a result of the pandemic. We have serious issues in terms of capacity in our health system. We could go through the list of pressing issues that could be debated, yet we are having no sittings other than, it seems, for the convenience of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party. I do not believe it is justified. I want to formally put my protest on the record.

Is sciobtha é a rá go n-aontaím go huile is go hiomlán. I fully agree. From day one of the Covid-19 crisis there has been an attempt to stop the Dáil sitting. I do not believe that is acceptable. I have turned up every week, as have my colleagues. We have to show leadership. We have to give people a forum for debate and allow them to ask questions. Restricting the Dáil to sitting one day a week in order to facilitate discussions is simply not acceptable.

It is not my job to defend either the Government or the Opposition, but the reality of the situation is that we have produced some statistics in the recent weeks. They indicate that in terms of accountability we have, during the weeks that we have been sitting, devoted more time to holding the Government to account than we would in the course of an ordinary sitting week. My understanding of the reason there has been a request for one day only this week and one day next week is that the parties which hope to form a Government are working on that. I remind all Deputies that our primary constitutional imperative as a new Dáil is to elect a Taoiseach and see a new Government formed. That is our number one responsibility. It is in pursuit of that, I believe, that the current proposals are before us.

That is all the more reason we should debate the issues we are facing.

Anyway, I will put the question. Is the proposal for dealing with today's business agreed to? Not agreed.

Question put and declared carried.