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TDs facing fingerprint scans as part of €600k plan to stop vote fraud

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Fingerprint scanners are the report’s preferred option

Fingerprint scanners are the report’s preferred option

Fingerprint scanners are the report’s preferred option

TDs may be monitored by new cameras and forced to scan their fingerprint to vote as part of an attempt to avoid another Dail voting scandal.

An expert review of Dail voting sparked by revelations about TDs casting votes for each other has outlined a series of costly solutions aimed at preventing further controversy.

A soon-to-be-published independent report by UCD Professor David Farrell suggested spending €600,000 on new technology which will require TDs to scan their fingerprints before voting.

A similar system is used in the Italian parliament.

Prof Farrell also suggested giving TDs chipped ID cards which would have to be inserted into a portal before a vote could be cast. However, he said fingerprint scanners are the preferred option as it reduces the possibility of voting fraud.

It is also suggested that the voting display in the Dail chamber could be changed to show the name of TDs who voted rather than just displaying whether they voted for, against or abstained.

The final recommendation was to put more cameras in the Dail to ensure every seat in the chamber can be monitored.

The expert review was sparked by revelations last October that former Fianna Fail TD Timmy Dooley was recorded voting six times in the Dail despite not being in the chamber.

His colleague Niall Collins admitted he had pressed Mr Dooley's voting button having been of the mistaken belief that his fellow Fianna Fail TD was in the chamber.

Both were sacked from Fianna Fail's front bench.

It later emerged that on another day, seven votes were cast in Mr Dooley's name while former Fianna Fail TD Lisa Chambers was sitting in his seat.

Ms Chambers escaped any reprimand from the party but lost her seat in the General Election, as did Mr Dooley.

Slashing

Separately, the Green Party has been finalising its preparations for entering government formation talks with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael today.

The line-up of its negotiating team was not expected to be decided until late last night.

It emerged yesterday that slashing of the VAT rate for the tourism sector is on the cards if Fianna Fail and Fine Gael form a government amid the devastating effect of the coronavirus crisis on the industry.

Senior figures in both parties want to see the rate cut, with several TDs suggesting it should be reduced to as low as 0pc.

Others expressed doubts that it could be cut by this much, but did leave open the possibility of some VAT relief.

Fine Gael Junior Minister Brendan Griffin told the Dail that it is estimated that more than 200,000 jobs have been lost in tourism and it is expected it will take years to recover.

He said that a 0pc VAT rate for the industry would be appropriate in the circumstances, though he added it would be a matter for the Department of Finance.

Fianna Fail TDs including deputy leader Dara Calleary and tourism spokesman Marc MacSharry said the rate should be set at 0pc.

The VAT rate currently stands at 13.5pc. It was reduced to 9pc to support the industry after the last recession but was increased back to 13.5pc in Budget 2019.