Thursday, 30 July 2020
Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil
Róisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Social Democrats)
It is a well-established convention of the House that all parties have an opportunity, in order of their size, to speak on legislation or statements in the first round. We are merely seeking to ensure that that convention be continued. It is very disappointing to see the new Government, in one of its earliest moves regarding the business of the House, seek to dispense with that convention. This is not about denying Government backbenchers time to speak. They can have all the time they want to speak on legislation and statements. All we are asking is that we retain the order in which all parties have an opportunity to come in on the first round. It is a reasonable request that we stick with that convention, and there is no basis for the Government to deny that. It is fundamentally undemocratic to do so. What the Government is proposing is that the Social Democrats and the Labour Party, for example, which have exactly the same number of seats each, should be split in terms of that entitlement. Under the Government's proposals, the Labour Party can continue in its position in this regard but, for some unknown reason, the Social Democrats must drop down further in the queue. There is no logic to that. There is no defence for it. We have the same number of seats as the Labour Party and we should be treated equally. All we are requesting is that we continue with what was a very successful and harmonious system from the previous Dáil. That is all.