Mattie McGrath exposes tactic the government has adopted to save their TDs from having to vote on controversial issues that would go down like a lead balloon with their constituents

On Wednesday morning, 28 June the Dáil held a two hour debate on a Rural Independent Group motion to prevent a cow cull as part of a suite of measures to tackle climate change.

Mattie McGrath the leader of the group spoke for ten minutes at the end of the debate. He pointed out that not a single rural government TD appeared in the chamber at any point during the debate.

The government did not oppose the motion.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle Deputy Catherine Connolly was in the chair and she asked if the motion was approved.

Deputy McGrath said it wasn’t and confusion arose.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said: “He opposes everything. He is only being consistent.”

Deputy Connolly said: “The motion is not agreed. I am sure Standing Orders do not even allow for this, but we will come back to it.”

Deputy McGrath had ended his speech by saying: “The Government has played a phony trick again by accepting this motion, but the Minister and Minister of State did not even read it because they spoke as if they were speaking to another motion. This is a charade. If it looks like a charade and walks like a charade it is a charade.”

M-Compass Media contacted Deputy McGrath to explain what happened. Having watched the two hour debate we were at pains to understand what happened at the end.

Deputy McGrath explained to us that the government has adopted a tactic in recent months whereby they accept and don’t oppose certain motions brought to the house by members of the opposition. This avoids a vote at the end of the debate that would result in reputational damage for their TDs. In this instance rural TDs were spared the slaughtering they’d get from farmers in their constituencies if they voted against a motion to stop cow culls.

“It’s totally undemocratic what’s going on,” Deputy McGrath told M-Compass Media. “I’m trying to put a stop to their charade. They have been getting away with this for months now. Once the motion is accepted that’s it, it goes nowhere after that. At least if there’s a vote we can show them up for what they are and voters can make up their own minds then,” he explained.