Fianna Fáil Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers has told the Dáil inquiry into the ‘phantom voting’ controversy that she didn’t think it was a massive issue that she double-voted last week.
In a report into the ‘vote-gate’ controversy, Ms Chambers admits that she “probably should have corrected” her vote but “didn’t think it was a massive issue so I left it”.
She later states that had it been a vote on a financial resolution she would have corrected it.
Ms Chambers voted for her deputy leader Dara Calleary, who was not in the chamber, before voting for herself in the same block of Dáil votes where her colleague Niall Collins voted for Timmy Dooley – who was not in the chamber – six times last Thursday.
Her account is contained in Dáil clerk Peter Finnegan’s report into the ‘vote-gate’ controversy that has gripped Leinster House this week.
“I pressed the button and looked up at the screen to make sure my vote had registered. It was at that stage that I realised I was in the wrong seat,” Ms Chambers is recorded as telling Mr Finnegan’s inquiry.
“It is a force of habit that I looked up at the screen.
“I then hopped over and voted for myself. I probably should have corrected it but I didn’t think it was a massive issue so I left it.”
Asked by Mr Finnegan if there was a reason she didn’t inform the teller, Ms Chambers stated: “I never made this mistake before, what a day to do it. In the moment, I left it as it was a big loss the vote in question. It is too casual altogether.
“When I’m usually voting, my button is under my left arm. It makes sense that I was in his chair because otherwise I’d have to lean over an empty seat to vote.”
Ms Chambers told Mr Finnegan that the “causal attitude” is the problem with the current Dáil voting system.
“In my own instance, I should have felt it was important enough to say it. That’s wrong of me and it speaks to a wider problem.
“If it was a financial resolution or the finance bill I would have mentioned if I’d voted in error but that is not my place to decide as all votes are equal.”
Ms Chambers told the inquiry that Mr Calleary, who is her Mayo constituency colleague, “had nothing to do” with the fact she had voted for him.
Mr Calleary confirmed to Mr Finnegan’s inquiry that he did not ask Ms Chambers to vote for her and she had not told him she had voted on his behalf.
Ms Chambers said she normally counts the seats to locate her assigned place as the numbers on the front row can’t be seen.
She said nobody was on either side of her and she inadvertently sat in Mr Calleary’s seat.
She said she did not correct the voting error by informing the Teller even though she had voted twice as the vote was lost by a significant margin.
Ms Chambers voted in her own seat for the seven remaining votes.
The report says that Mr Calleary entered the Chamber before the sixth vote and a vote is registered in his seat for votes six, seven and eight.
Ms Chambers said she told Mr Calleary of her mistake when he came in.
The report says: “She stated that she is of the belief that he would have assumed that she had told the teller of her error.”
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