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Politics

‘Ridiculous’: TD slams plan to make politicians stand up for Dáil prayer

The change is due to be voted on this afternoon. Ruth Coppinger says a debate is needed.

LEFT-WING TDs say they’ll challenge a change to Dáil rules requiring deputies to stand as a prayer is read each day.

The change to Standing Order 27 is due to be voted on this afternoon.

However Ruth Coppinger of Solidarity says it’s being brought in without proper debate.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie the Dublin TD decried the move as ridiculous and said that there was no other workplace in the country that would require people to stand for a prayer at the beginning of each day.

Solidarity (formerly the AAA) has submitted an amendment to the proposed change, Coppinger said.

This the rule that currently governs prayers in the chamber: 

27. Upon taking the Chair each day, and before any business is entered upon, the Ceann Comhairle shall read the following prayer:—Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our actions by Thy holy inspirations and carry them on by Thy gracious assistance; that every word and work of ours may always begin from Thee, and by Thee be happily ended; through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

This is the motion before the Dáil today:

That, in accordance with the recommendation
of the Committee on Procedure under
Standing Order 107(1)(a), and with effect
from 2nd May, 2017, the Standing Orders of
Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business be
amended by the adoption of the following in
substitution for Standing Order 27:27. (1) Upon taking the Chair each day, and
before any business is entered upon, the
Ceann Comhairle shall read the following
prayer in the Irish and English languages:—Direct, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our
actions by Thy holy inspirations and
carry them on by Thy gracious
assistance; that every word and work of
ours may always begin from Thee, and by
Thee be happily ended; through Christ
Our Lord. Amen.
(2) All members present shall stand while the
prayer is being read, and when it is
concluded, members shall remain standing
for 30 seconds of silent reflection.’.”

This is what Coppinger wants changed:

Delete all words after “That,” and substitute with the following:“with effect from 2nd May, 2017, the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business be amended by the deletion of Standing Order 27.” – Mick Barry, Ruth Coppinger, Paul Murphy.

Debate

A panel of TDs and senators decided last month to bring in a 30-second moment of reflection after the daily prayer.

The Oireachtas Committee on Procedures and Privileges said the prayer, which is said at the beginning of business each day, should continue to be said in English and Irish.

The debate on whether or not there should be a prayer at all has been ongoing for years – but members of the public appear split on the issue.

According to a Claire Byrne Live/Amárach Research poll from earlier this year, 42% of people said each Dáil session should not begin with a prayer, while 42% said it should.

A total of 16% said they didn’t know.

Coppinger said that most TDs tended to stand for the prayer each day anyway, but that it shouldn’t be a requirement in a secular workplace.

The Ceann Comhairle could potentially exclude deputies from the chamber for failing to comply, she said.

The matter will be dealt with after Leaders’ Questions today, at around 2.30pm.