Fianna Fáil's Brexit spokesperson, Mayo deputy Lisa Chambers has insisted it was "entirely normal" for TDs to sit in the wrong place, after new footage emerged showing votes being cast for a colleague while she occupied his seat.

Deputy Chambers claims she is being "singled out" for scrutiny, despite her previous insistence that she only ever cast a vote on behalf of a colleague once by accident.

While the deputy issued a statement to Midwest News on the controversy, today she ruled out being interviewed on the latest revelations.

Last week, the Oireachtas Committee on Members' Interests criticised deputy Chambers for casting a vote using a pad registered to Fianna Fáil's deputy leader Dara Calleary.

While it was accepted that Ms Chambers did so "inadvertently", the committee warned that a further breach of voting rules could lead to a finding that she had acted "recklessly" or "intentionally".

At the time she apologised, saying: "Honestly I don't think I've ever done it before."

However, footage emerged showing seven votes being attributed to Fianna Fáil's Timmy Dooley while  Lisa Chambers sat in his place last January.

She sat in the Clare TD's seat for almost 50 minutes as votes on rural crime to cycling were dealt with.

Mr Dooley has said he was present elsewhere in the chamber – but, according to the Irish Independent, he is not visible on camera at any point during the session.

In a statement to Midwest News today deputy Chambers says there is no “further voting controversy”. Stating again that “Tim Dooley was in the chamber, so it’s no different to everyone else including the five government ministers and TDs right across the house that were in the same position”.

The statement continues “this was a widespread occurrence at every single voting block, the Taoiseach himself did it, until the system was recently changed by the Ceann Comhairle.

Even on the day in question, which was a year ago, there were multiple TDs in different seats as was common, so there is no reason to be singling me out but I suspect it is an attempt to deflect from the Dara Murphy controversy”.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has also claimed that the reignition of the Votegate controversy is an attempt by Fine Gael to distract from the backlash over double-jobbing Fine Gael TD Dara Murphy.

However, Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd said the voting habits of the Fianna Fáil frontbench "beggar belief". He has called on deputy Chambers to "come clean", adding that her assertion that the situation was entirely normal "stretches credulity". "It isn't entirely normal, it isn't acceptable, and it isn't democratic," he said.

 

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