Everyone has agendas. The Independent carries this piece excoriating Ming Flanagan (not for the first time) over his Dáil attendance record. It’s completely false. Why would they do that? Before you make up your mind, open it.
Statement from Flanagan follows:
Independent newspapers incorrectly reported over the weekend that “Luke Ming Flanagan has one of worst Dail attendance records”. In fact far from having the worst record I have instead got one of the best Dáil attendance records off all TDs.
The Indo super sleuth Michael Brennan appears to believe that of the 35 times that the Dáil sat in the first three months of the year I had only attended on 24 of those days. If he had bothered to do his research then he would have seen that he was in fact very wide of the mark. A half an hours research on the Internet would have shown him this.
The first day that the Independent claims I did not attend the Dàil was Thursday January 17th. That however does not add up given that on that day I voted on the Electoral Amendment Bill. They claim that I failed to attend the Dáil on Thursday February 7th. This was the time when the government rammed through ‘the deal’ on the promissory notes. On this particular day, that the independent claims I did not attend, I spoke in the Dáil chamber on the IBRC liquidation Bill. I also voted on 4 separate occasions. On Friday February 8th when they claimed I was not around for work I attended meetings in my Dáil office followed by a four hour meeting on Garda corruption. The indo claim I did not attend the Dáil on Thursday February 21st when the record quiet clearly states that I voted on the Finance Bill. On the following Thursday the 28th they get it wrong again. They claim I did not attend but yet again it is clear, for anyone who bothers to check, that on that day I voted on the Electoral Amendment (Dáil constitiencies) Bill. In fact the Dáil record shows that I also put in an application for a topical issues debate on Harristown House on that day. On the following Wednesday the 6th of March I voted on the HSE Governance Bill yet the indos Michael Brennan reports that I was not there. Two days later on March 8th I am not meant to have turned up either yet I attended meetings in my Dublin Dáil office that day. Less than two weeks later on Thursday March 21st I voted in the Dáil chamber on the Health (Alteration of Criteria for Eligibility) Bill. But yet again, I’m sure you’ve got it at this stage, it is reported by the indo that I could not be bothered to turn up for work even though the record clearly show otherwise. I also voted that day on the Disability Services Private Members Bill yet the indo fail to notice this either. The following Thursday March 28th I questioned Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney on the potential sale of Coillte. For some reason the independent is in denial about this too even though a few minutes searching on www.oireachtas.ie would have revealed the truth. On March 26th I attended meetings in my Dublin Dáil office. Yet again the indo incorrectly suggest I have not done my job.
Of the 35 days that the Dáil sat in the first three months of this year I missed one day and that was Friday January 18th. On that day I had appointments in my Castlerea office with constituents. So in total I missed one single day in The Dáil in the first three months of the year and not 11 as reported by the Indo. This amounts to an attendance rate of 97.1% which is one of the highest of any TDs in the country. What is amazing is that the independents journalist could not have established this themselves. When carrying out this exercise I decided to see could a ten year old neighbour find out what the countries biggest news group could not. I gave them the list of 11 dates on which the indo claimed I had failed to turn up for work. I also suggested they try www.kildarestreet.com . Within 10 minutes they were able to conclusively contradict one of the dates. How come the countries biggest media empire could not?
It is however not just attending Dáil Éireann that matters. The most important part is what one does when there. One of the best way to decide this is the number of Dáil debates that deputies participate in. This information is also available fromwww.kildarestreet.com. When one looks at the number of debates participated in for the last year it can be clearly seen that I have taken part in 86. Deputy Naughten has taken part in 46 and deputy Feighan 43. So in other words I nearly participate in as many debates as both my constituency colleagues combined, I am one of the top attenders in Dáil Éireann and I do it all for 50% of the pay of other TDs.
I have today spoken to my solicitor regarding taking legal action against Independent News and Media for printing a series of articles suggesting that I had one of the worst Dáil attendance records when nothing could be further from the truth.
We spoke with Mr.Flanagan to confirm that while the Independent hadn’t published the exact 11 days he was supposed to have missed, he surmised that these were days where he hadn’t used the electronic fob to ‘check-in’. He explained that when one forgets to use the fob it is possible to sign in with a pen or even at the end of the term to look back on your missing days and correct the record that way. This is common practice and should be well known to any journalist dealing with matters of the Oireachtas, let alone the deputy political editor of the Independent.
Update: 12th June – The Independent has printed a correction in their In Brief section – no apology. Here