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Taoiseach accused of ‘contempt’ over absence from Dáil

There were angry scenes in the Dáil this afternoon with members of the opposition accusing Taoiseach Simon Harris of displaying “contempt” by not appearing in the chamber to take questions.

“I want to know, where’s the Taoiseach?” Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald demanded of the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

“He said yesterday, he was getting straight to work, he was moving mountains. There was nothing – no challenge too great.

“And we are here today, we’ve shown up to do our job. We are here, we’ve shown in for work.

“Where is the Taoiseach? He ought to be here,” Deputy McDonald said. “He ought to be here taking questions and dealing with the issues that matter to the people.”

These include housing, the hospital crisis, the cost-of-living crisis and the fodder crisis, the deputy added.

After a two-week recess, “he’s had plenty of time to prepare himself. And he isn’t here,” she added.

“To me as an elected representative that is entirely unacceptable.”

Government Chief Whip Hildegarde Naughton explained that Mr Harris was “not available to take Leaders’ Questions today because he is speaking with the UK prime minister”, along with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, and the Ukrainian President.

Mr Harris will not take Leaders’ Questions tomorrow as he will be in Brussels and Warsaw, she added, but will be present in the house next week.

While Independent TD Mattie McGrath accepted “that phone calls have to be done”, he asked, “where’s the Tánaiste?”

“This is total disrespect for the house.

“I think we should go over to the Wax Museum and get a model of him and put him in there.”

Deputy McDonald asked if the Taoiseach was absent because he had to make “four phone calls”.

“That’s ridiculous,” her colleague Pearse Doherty said.

The Ceann Comhairle cautioned against “getting into” how many phone calls someone makes, as “we have important business to do”, prompting an angry response from Deputy Doherty.

Shortly afterwards, Simon Harris posted a Tik Tok video detailing his busy day which he noted was his first full day as Taoiseach.

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