Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae
RTÉ Investigates analysed official attendance records published by the Oireachtas, together with TD voting records, to find instances where TDs signed in electronically and then failed to attend any votes.
Those who most frequently missed every vote on days when they clocked in include Independents Michael Healy-Rae, Danny Healy-Rae, as well as Fine Gael’s Enda Kenny, Independent TD Noel Grealish, and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and his party colleague Willie O’Dea.
RTÉ Investigates found that between March 2016 and the end of July 2019, Michael Healy-Rae recorded his attendance in Leinster House for 76 days on which he missed the entire day’s votes.
In that period, there were 155 days when he signed in and a vote took place- meaning he missed 49% of the voting days for which he was recorded as present at Leinster House.
Michael Healy-Rae told RTÉ Investigates that he sometimes had meetings when votes took place. He also said that, on occasion, he would be asked to ‘pair’ – an arrangement whereby two opposing TDs agree not to vote, which generally occurs when one or both of the TDs have other commitments and can’t attend.
Jennifer Bray and Harry McGee, in The Irish Times, report:
TDs from across the political spectrum have admitted to voting for colleagues who were present in the Dáil chamber but who were not in their designated seats.
Deputies including Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughten, Peter Burke and Fergus O’Dowd, Fianna Fáil’s Anne Rabbitte and James Lawless, as well as Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly, said they may have pressed a colleague’s voting button but only when they were actually in the chamber.
The controversy over Dáil voting deepened as Ministers also disclosed they voted for colleagues, although no further TDs have come forward to say they voted for absent representatives.
Previously: Push The Button And Let Me Know
Gavan Reilly tweetz:
NEW: Fine Gael ministers are seeking to call Timmy Dooley, Niall Collins and Lisa Chambers (and potentially others) before the Dáil to make statements on #VoteGate and take questions from other TDs. Business committee being asked to meet later, session could happen this evening.
A FG source says Fianna Fáil have always rushed to call ministers before the Dáil for statements and Q&A on other major issues, and should therefore have no problem when the shoe is on the other foot…
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
As a nordie should nordies go woop woop if this happens. Also, what do non-nordies think?
Voting during the Seanad Referendum in 2013
With May’s same-sex marriage referendum in mind.
Are we ready for some ‘bespoke’ democracy?
The De Borda Institute aims to “promote the use of inclusive voting procedures on all contentious questions of social choice”.
Peter Emerson of the institute writes: writes:
When is Ireland going to move beyond binary voting [admitting only one answer among two possibilities]? When Finland debated abolition, 85 years ago, they had three options; when New Zealand debated their electoral system 20 years ago, they had five; in 1982, Guam had a constitutional referendum with 6. In Ireland though, as in Britain, there’s little sign yet of any such sophistication. Hence the nonsense of the Seanad referendum: they voted keep it or abolish it, and they got to change it. Take Scotland: they voted independence or status quo, and they too got something that (many wanted but) nobody voted for – devo-max. So, any chance of some pluralism? The correct methodology, we would argue, is the Modified Borda Count, MBC, multi-option preference voting; where the winning option is that which gets the highest average preference… and an average, of course, involves every one who votes, not just a majority of ’em….
I’m going to be away with work when the referendum is on. You know the one. I was wondering if I can still vote even though I’m out of the country? I heard you can’t vote abroad unless you are a servant of the State, e.g diplomats and soldiers. Is it possible to vote by post or anything? I haven’t emigrated or anything. I still live here.
(Mark Stedman, Photocall)
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