The Dáil Eireann was scheduled to be in recess until September 15
The Dáil Eireann is set to reconvene ahead of schedule in the face of mounting pressure from opposition parties as well as last week's "Golfgate" scandal.
In a brief statement issued on Sunday, August 23, the Irish government said: “The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and Minister Eamon Ryan have agreed that the Dáil should be recalled following the reopening of schools. The Taoiseach will make this request to the Ceann Comhairle on Monday.”
According to RTE, the Ceann Comhairle, the speaker of the Dáil, will contact the Business Committee which will then come up with a Dáil agenda.
The Dáil, which was originally supposed to reconvene on September 15, has been in recess since July 31 when it voted to begin their six-week holidays "immediately." According to the government's announcement on Sunday, it will still be September before the Dáil is back in session as schools in Ireland are reopening in "late August."
The announcement to recall the Dáil comes just days after the so-called “Golfgate” scandal sparked outrage across Ireland. On Wednesday, August 19, the day after the Irish government announced the “significant tightening” of coronavirus restrictions for the entire country, more than 80 people, many of whom are politicians, attended an Oireachtas Golf Society event at The Station House Hotel in Co Galway.
Many of the politicians who were in attendance at the event have since issued apologies or resigned from their roles since the story broke on Thursday evening. Phil Hogan, the European Commissioner for Trade, is facing calls to resign though he has yet to indicate that he will.
A government spokesperson has told The Irish Times: “The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste did speak with the Commissioner today and asked him to consider his position.
“They both believe that the event should never have been held, that the Commissioner’s apology came late and that he still needs to give a full account and explanations of his action.”
Mary Lou McDonald, the leader of opposition party Sinn Féin, was among those calling for the early reconvening of the Dáil and was outspoken in her criticisms of last week’s Oireachtas Golf Society event.
On August 21, McDonald said the government had “descended to new levels of chaos:”
The Dáil must be recalled. This shambolic government must answer questions and rebuild public confidence.August 21, 2020
“I had no idea that there was such a thing as an Oireachtas golfing society," McDonald said, "I don’t believe that it is healthy or appropriate for judges and lobbyists for big banks to be rubbing shoulders and being golfing buddies with senior politicians and members of government.”
“We’re elected to the Dáil. This isn’t a country club. This is a parliament," McDonald said.
She added: “I’m very disappointed that when I spoke to the Taoiseach this morning that he refused to recall the Dáil. I think he is wrong, I think that is another mistake.
“I am calling on him again and on his partners in government in Fine Gael and the Green Party who are also responsible for this mess and for this chaos to recall the Dáil and begin the process of rebuilding public confidence.”
Later, in a tweet on August 23, McDonald said:
Dáil should be back this week. Govt delay is wrong. Politics needs to get ahead of the big challenges of school returns, healthcare capacity, protecting jobs and workers. Chaotic govt must end.— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) August 23, 2020
Regarding “golfgate,” McDonald told the Irish Times: “The public needs to know if multiple breaches of the guidelines occurred.
“I would ask those present at the dinner to clarify whether the length of time was compliant with the regulations and to be clear about how many regulation breaches took place. The attendees must be up-front about what happened and how the rules were breached. ”