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.