Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil

Before we take Leaders' Questions, I would like to address the recent controversy regarding voting in the Dáil. These revelations are very grave and go to the heart of the credibility of our parliamentary process. As I said in my public statement, the integrity of the voting process in Dáil Éireann is of the utmost importance. The public must have total and absolute confidence in it. Given the gravity of the matter, I have directed the Clerk of the Dáil to prepare an urgent report to establish the facts of what transpired last Thursday, 17 October. Work on this is well under way and I have now requested him to speak with a number of Members, with the tellers on the day, and with the party and group Whips. I also ask all concerned to co-operate with this process as I believe it is imperative that we get to the facts without any delay to restore public confidence in our voting system.

I should also say at this juncture that last Thursday's events are also the subject of a complaint under the Ethics in Public Office Acts of 1995 and 2001. This statutory process must take its course but in the meantime, it is essential that the facts be established and that the Committee on Procedure considers any recommendations that may be required in the short term relating to the electronic voting system and the operation and procedure of it. This afternoon, at 4 p.m., the Committee on Procedure will meet at my request and I will take the opportunity to brief Members on the process so far.

Let no person in this House and beyond be in any doubt that this is a very serious situation which requires urgent action. I am absolutely committed to establishing the facts and making any changes to the electronic voting system that are deemed necessary following the review. The electronic voting system is integral to our parliamentary system and has been since 2001. Any recommendations on changes to the system that emerge from the review will be given immediate attention. In the meantime, any votes this week shall only be taken when all Members are seated in their designated seats. Furthermore, I have directed that each Whip certifies the Members who voted from his or her party or group. This certification will be given to the tellers.

In conclusion, it is my intention to convene a meeting of the Committee on Procedure on Thursday morning to consider the completed report of the Clerk of the Dáil. I will revert to the House on that at a later stage. I should point out that the Dáil Business Committee met earlier today and provision will be made, if necessary, on Thursday for a debate on this matter, that is on the report of the Committee on Procedure.