REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE AND PRIVILEGES.
Rules relating to disorderly conduct in the Dáil.
1. The Committee on Procedure and Privileges has had under review various aspects of the rules relating to disorderly conduct in the Dáil. These rules, which are contained in Nos. 49, 50 and 51 of the Standing Orders of the Dáil relative to Public Business, appoint the Ceann Comhairle the sole judge of order in the Dáil and vest him with powers to enforce obedience to his ruling. Those powers are, firstly, the power to order a Deputy, guilty of gross disorder, to withdraw from the Dáil for the remainder of the day’s sitting and, secondly, if he deems that to be inadequate, the power to “name” the Deputy, which is the method of calling on the Dáil to suspend the Deputy from the service of the Dáil. Suspension from the service of the Dáil lasts for a week, a fortnight or a month according to whether it is the first, second or any subsequent occasion in respect of the Deputy concerned. Within those periods, the Dáil can discharge the order of suspension on receipt of a written and approved expression of regret from the Deputy.
2. The Committee is satisfied that the Ceann Comhairle’s powers, as described above, provide ample means of checking disorder. In the matter of the periods during which a Deputy’s suspension remains in force, it is considered that, while the Dáil is in regular week-to-week session, they fairly adequately represent the measure of censure which ought to be imposed on a Deputy guilty of the type of disorderly conduct normally meriting such punishment. It is clear, however, that the penalty loses much of its effect when the offence is committed shortly before a period of recess or when sittings are irregular. In such circumstances it can easily happen that the suspension of a Deputy will be effective only for the day on which it takes place. The Committee accordingly recommends that the duration of an Order suspending a Deputy should be fixed by reference to a number of sitting days corresponding roughly to the number that would be included in the periods at present prescribed, were the Dáil in full uninterrupted session. The amendment suggested is the deletion from Standing Order No. 51 of the words “If any member be suspended under this Standing Order, his suspension on the first occasion shall continue for one week, on the second occasion for a fortnight, and on the third or any subsequent occasion for one month” and the substitution therefore of the words “If any member be suspended under this Standing Order his suspension shall continue until the fourth day on which the Dáil shall sit after the day on which he was suspended. If, however, a member be suspended on more than one occasion in any period of twelve months, his suspension on the second such occasion shall continue until the eighth such day and on the third, or any subsequent, such occasion until the twelfth such day.”
PROINNSIAS O FATHAIGH,
7th February, 1945.