DAIL SUSPENDED 3 TIMES IN 1 DAY; Sinn Fein accuses Tanaiste of slur over sex abuse.
Byline: SARAH BARDON
THE Dail was suspended three times yesterday during furious bust-ups between Sinn Fein and the Tanaiste.
Angry Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett was forced to adjourn business for an hour as the Opposition party accused Labour leader Joan Burton of making defamatory comments.
Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh refused to take his seat, alleging Ms Burton referred to "your organisation" when asked about the cover-up of child sex abuse.
The Sinn Fein whip said the remarks made were "defamatory in the extreme".
Speaking to the Ceann Comhairle, Mr O Snodaigh said: "We have tried to raise with you that the remarks made by the Tanaiste and Minister for Social Protection in her last contribution were defamatory in the extreme and were aimed at Members of this House.
"According to Standing Orders when a defamatory remark is made in the House we have an opportunity to raise it with you there and then so that you can ask the Member in question to withdraw.
"You did not do so and you were not inclined to do so, which is why I took umbrage with the Chair."
Minister Burton was asked about claims of sex abuse by Irish language activist Domhnall O Lubhlai, who died last year.
Mary Lou McDonald requested a Garda review on the case be passed on to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
Ms Burton responded: "Mr O Lubhlai has been characterised in previous media reports as being a paedophile rapist on a very significant scale in relation to children who came under his care and attention.
"I don't have results of Garda investigations to hand but he was a prominent republican during his life.
"From the discussion previously and the acknowledgements by the Deputy's party, there has been a problem of paedophilia and sex abuse particularly of children in the republican movement - and cover-ups."
Sinn Fein claimed this was an accusation made against the party and asked for the comments to be withdrawn.
The Ceann Comhairle said he asked the clerk to check the records of the Dail and none of the remarks were made about members of the House itself.
The House was suspended three times, for a total of one hour.
After rowdy exchanges Sinn Fein agreed to send the complaint to the Committee on Procedures and Privileges.
MINISTER Joan Burton