Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has called on the Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett TD to immediately withdraw comments made earlier this morning on the Sean O’Rourke Show.  In an extraordinary interview, the Ceann Comhairle chose not to explain why he ommitted to inform the Dáil of a letter he had received from Deputy Shatter in November last.  The letter was trying to influence the Ceann Comhairle to take certain decisions in relation to an important discussion on a Commision of Inquiry.  Instead, Deputy Barrett made a series of charges about Fianna Fáil’s motivation in raising concerns about his decision, claiming that these actions were based on an effort to undermine him.

Deputy Martin commented, “Fianna Fáil’s motivation in objecting to the way the Dáil has been treated this week is simple – we believe in the primacy of Parliament and we reject the idea that legitimate debate should be blocked on the demands of one TD, in this case Deputy Alan Shatter.  Unlike others, and in the face of criticism, we have consistently refused to make this an issue that is personal to the Ceann Comhairle.  Indeed as recently as an interview this morning with Newstalk Breakfast, I made clear that we were not personalising this issue.

“This morning however, the Ceann Comhairle made a series of extraordinary comments on RTÉ Radio, including a completely unjustified accusation that Fianna Fail has been seeking debate because we are attempting to undermine Deputy Barrett.  This charge will not go unchallenged.  In addition, he sought to dismiss the substance of the issue, claiming that the terms of reference are a technical issue and that stopping the debate simply aided a speedier start to the inquiry.

“If the Ceann Comhairle wishes to retain the confidence of the Fianna Fáil Party, he must immediately withdraw his comments questioning Fianna Fáil’s motivation and address the legitimate concerns we have raised.”