By David Young, PA
The Ceann Comhairle threatened to suspend the Dáil as he branded a further round of heated clashes over the eviction ban as “absolutely intolerable”.
Sean O Fearghail’s warning came amid factious exchanges between Sinn Féin and the Government benches over the housing crisis.
Angry scenes played out as Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty questioned Tánaiste Micheál Martin on the ongoing controversy over the imminent ending of the prohibition on terminating rental tenancies.
Mr Martin and Mr Doherty exchanged claim and counterclaim during Leaders’ Questions, with other TDs, including Sinn Féin’s Eoin O’Broin, also getting involved in a flurry of accusations traded across the chamber.
Interjecting, the Ceann Comhairle said he would not allow parliamentary business to be subverted.
“Persist with this, and I will suspend the house,” he warned.
“I’m not going to tolerate it. The people out there who are watching this parliament conduct its business are disgusted with the sort of behaviour that goes on here. People need to be able to speak without interruption.”
He described the exchanges as “absolutely intolerable”.
“I’m talking about parliamentary practice, I’m talking about parliamentary practice,” he added.
“Now that’s my job is to ensure that proper practice is adhered to and not subverted by anybody.”
Earlier, Mr Doherty claimed the lifting of the ban at the end of March would push thousands toward homelessness.
“Every single one of you over on that side of this room has decided to inflict misery, to inflict pain on those individuals,” he said.
“Call this decision what it is – it is a government choosing to push thousands of working families towards homelessness.”
Mr Martin accused Sinn Féin of advancing a “dishonest” proposition that extending the ban would make the accommodation situation better.
“Significant progress has been made (on housing) which you just simply do not acknowledge and many of your policies would have made the situation far worse,” he said.