Controversial changes to Dáil speaking time rules were passed after a heated late night

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Controversial changes to Dáil speaking time rules were passed after a heated late night debate saw the Dáil suspended twice, a call to have an emergency debate on the issue rejected and a walk-out from some opposition TDs.

The rule changes were agreed without a vote just before midnight last night, after a vote to allow an emergency debate on the issue was rejected by 86 votes to 63.

Under plans, which became public after being discussed at the Dáil business committee yesterday afternoon, Government parties will be given more speaking time than they currently have under the existing system.

Government says the changes are needed as Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party backbench TDs rarely have an opportunity to speak, while TDs from smaller opposition parties have more chances to speak.

However, opposition parties say the planned changes are an attempt to limit the speaking opportunities of TDs critical of Government by pushing their speaking times into later time slots in debates.

Just before 10pm, a number of TDs from smaller opposition parties criticised the decision to change Dáil speaking time rules and called for an emergency 40-minute debate.

Solidarity-PBP TD for Cork North Central Mick Barry and Rise TD for Dublin South West Paul Murphy raised the issue at 9.45pm, saying a debate is needed instead of a simple vote.

After a number of minutes of trying to restore order, and telling both sides of the House heckling "is not helping", Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly adjourned the Dail for 10 minutes.

When the Dáil resumed, it was agreed to hold a vote on whether to allow a debate and a vote on the speaking time rules issue, or to hold a simple vote.


 
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