From top: Fianna Fáil Leader Michéal Martín (left) and Niall Collins TD; Mr Martín and Timmy Dooley TD; Lisa Chambers TD
Fianna Fáil TD and the party’s Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers spoke to Audrey Carville on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about how she came to vote for the party’s deputy leader Dara Calleary last Thursday.
It followed the Irish Independent reporting on Saturday that Ms Chambers’ party colleague Timmy Dooley TD had voted six times last Thursday even though he wasn’t in the Dáil chamber.
Mr Dooley and Fianna Fáil Niall Collins, who voted for Mr Dooley, have been suspended from the front bench pending an investigation by the Ceann Comhairle.
Ms Carville began her interview with Ms Chambers after airing a clip from yesterday’s on RTÉ’s This Week during which Ms Chambers was asked if she ever voted for a colleague or had a colleague vote for her.
She replied: “No, I haven’t.”
From this morning’s interview…
Audrey Carville: “‘No, I havent’. So why did you say you hadn’t, when you had?”
Lisa Chambers: “Well, honestly, Audrey, I took that to be, ‘did you ever intentionally, knowingly, purposefully, you know, go into the chamber to vote for somebody else and were ever asked to do so and the answer to that is ‘no’. And I’ve never asked somebody to do that for me either.
“What happened for me last Thursday was an honest, genuine mistake. All of the seats are side by side. We sit alphabetically. Myself and Dara Calleary’s seats are beside each other. The seats are identical, they’re not numbered.
“And when I walked in, the row was pretty empty so I mistakenly sat in Dara’s seat instead of my own, not realising. So when I voted on the very first vote, now there were lots of votes on Thursday, when I voted on the very first vote, I honest to God believed I was sitting in my seat and pressing my voting button.
“And when I looked up at the main screen where we can see the seats highlighted for voting, I realised my seat wasn’t highlighted. And that’s when I realised I was in the wrong seat with probably less than 10 seconds to go, I hopped into my own seat, beside it, and then cast my own vote which is what I should have done.
“Now, my mistake, and I hold my hands up on this. I should have told the teller that there was an error recorded in the seat beside me. I didn’t do that. The reason I didn’t was that the vote was lost by such a huge number that I genuinely thought it was insignificant and that it was a genuine mistake. There were lots of votes. Dara missed a few votes, I only voted in the very first one and then I moved my seat.
“There are absolutely no benefits or no good reason why I would have voted for anybody else. It didn’t make any difference to the vote, as I said now, I should have still corrected the error regardless. But there’s no reason you would do that. And I hope that people will take it as a genuine, honest mistake on the day.
“Others have done the same, my mistake was not telling the teller to correct the record.”
Carville: “But if it was a genuine mistake, why did…”
Chambers: “And it was…”
Carville: “Why did you also vote for yourself though?”
Chambers: “Well I should have voted for myself. That’s because I was in the chamber, I should have recorded my own votes, that was the correct thing to do. My mistake, and what I should have done, and I hold my hands up, I should have told one of the tellers that I had recorded an error vote in the seat beside me…”
Carville: “Yes, you should have done that. But you also should have, when you recorded the vote in Dara Calleary’s seat, surely then you knew, your vote was recorded, you didn’t need to vote for yourself as well.”
Chambers: “Well, no, your vote isn’t recorded because it’s assigned to the seat you’re supposed to be sitting in. So my seat was blank, as though I wasn’t voting. So, again, you’ve got 60 seconds to take a vote. Even if you look back at the Dáil footage, you’ll see, I cast what I thought was my own vote maybe about 15 seconds in, but in Dara’s seat. I realised I was in the wrong seat. There was maybe 10 seconds left and I went, popped into the seat next door, my own seat to cast my own vote...”
Carville: “Ok. So why didn’t you tell the vote tellers or the Ceann Comhairle?”
Chambers: “Look it, I should have and…”
Carville: “But why didn’t you?”
Chambers: “I looked up, the vote was lost by such a huge margin, it didn’t make any difference. I accept I should have done it, it was a genuine error. But there was no mal-intent. I didn’t purposefully, intentionally go in to vote for somebody else. Dara never asked me to do that, he was none the wiser. This was news to him, as well. It was an honest, genuine mistake and I’m hoping that by coming on and explaining, people will take it as that.
“I think people have come to know me the last number of years, I work hard, I do my best, I put my best into my work and I’m straight. You know this was an honest mistake. Others have done it but my error and I full accept, I should have told a teller on the day that I recorded an error vote in the seat beside me…”
Carville: “When you say ‘others have done it’, who are you talking about? Are you talking about other people, other than Timmy Dooley and Niall Collins?”
Chambers: “Well, people can record error votes by mistake. You might press ‘Tá’ instead of ‘Níl’ you could press the button on the wrong side of you by mistake but what I should have done is tell the teller so that it could have been cancelled out.”
Listen back in full here
Earlier: A Limerick A Day
Thanks Helen O’D