Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 13 Feb 2002

Vol. 548 No. 3

Business of Dáil.

Arising from exchanges on the Order of Business this morning, I indicated to the House that I would return to the issue of ruling on remarks allegedly made, but not heard at the time by the Chair. As I indicated, the long-standing rule is that the Chair cannot rule on remarks that he does not hear. Like my many predecessors, I intend to uphold that rule which is in keeping with the orderly, expeditious transaction of the business of the House.

Reference was made to a once-off incident last November when I was obliged to have recourse to the audio tape of proceedings, but that was in very unusual and completely different circumstances. It would be incorrect, and make no sense, to extrapolate this incident into a precedent whereby the Chair would be obliged to suspend the House and seek recourse to the audio record to establish whether alleged disorderly remarks had been made. Clearly, apart from the time lost to the House – almost 25 minutes today – it would not be feasible and would be a recipe for parliamentary chaos.

I remind Members that the Dáil is not a court of law. While political charges are in order, personal charges may not be made. Therefore, should circumstances similar to today's recur, I will not suspend the sitting to listen to audio tapes and will adhere to the long-standing rule of the Chair. There is no other way to conduct business.

I accept that the Chair is entitled to make a ruling, but give notice that we would like to raise this matter with the Committee on Procedure and Privileges in order that we can flesh out the implications of the Ceann Comhairle's ruling. I do not wish to do so now, but, given the available technology, there may be other ways of dealing with the matter. I appreciate that a ruling is being given now which I am not contesting, but, out of courtesy, I am informing the Chair that we will seek to have the matter raised with the committee.

The Deputy is aware of how that should be done.