herald

Sunday 4 December 2016

Time for scruffy TDs to suit up - public call for a Dail dress code

Wexford TD Mick Wallace wore a soccer top in the Dail (Tom Burke)
Wexford TD Mick Wallace wore a soccer top in the Dail (Tom Burke)

Dublin voters want to see scruffy TDs tidy up their act, with most people supporting a formal dress code for Leinster House.

An exclusive Herald/Millward Brown poll, carried out in Dublin West and Dublin Bay South, showed 57pc of people surveyed wanted a dress code introduced.

Dail attire has proved controversial in recent years, with a Muppets T-shirt and an Italian soccer top making appearances in the chamber.

Independent TD Mick Wallace is famed for often appearing in a pink polo shirt. In 2014, he turned heads when he appeared sporting a Torino FC top.

He previously said he was "flabbergasted" by the Oireachtas Committee on Privileges and Procedures' attempt to bring in a dress code for politicians.

Mr Wallace could not be reached yesterday for a comment on the results of the poll, which was conducted between February 5-8 and February 12-16.

Richard Boyd Barrett - who has previously hit out at a past attempt to introduce a dress code, describing it as "pathetic" - said such a code was not necessary. "I think policy and politics are the priority in the Dail, not people's dress code," he told the Herald.

"If there was some sort of popular campaign demanding a change, if people felt strongly about it, I would have to go with democracy, but I honestly can't see that happening.

"In three weeks of canvassing I've only met one person who raised a difficulty they had with one TD's dress."

The People Before Profit Alliance TD declined to reveal who that deputy was.

"I like to think I dress reasonably well in the Dail," he added.

Labour TD Aodhan O Riordain - whose snappy suits caught the attention of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a spat with a journalist about her own choices of dress - said he would prefer people to make up their own minds.

"Sometimes I think there should be a code, but sometimes when you're discussing things like housing, health or homelessness - things that are happening in people's lives - the dress of the individual is irrelevant," he said.

"The points that they're making are what's important.

"I made my own personal decision to hand the office the respect I believe it deserves. I did it as a principle and I do it as a TD.

"Sometimes people have to put themselves second to the dignity of the parliament.

"I would prefer it if people would make the decision to dress a particular way.

"We've had debates with excellent contributions from people who may not have been dressed in a particular way.

"I think the more that you bring in dress codes, the more people are going to violate them."

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