Credit: Gript; Dáil Éireann on Flickr

TD to Taoiseach: “At what point does civil disobedience become legitimate?”

Michael McNamara TD has asked the Taoiseach at what point civil disobedience becomes legitimate “if democracy is reduced to a tyranny of a narrow majority?”

The remarks were made by the independent Clare TD in the Dáil earlier today, with the Deputy slamming the Taoiseach’s repeated curtailment of parliamentary debates.

“Taoiseach,” McNamara said, “the legislation which is expected to go through today is the fifth major piece of legislation on covid-restrictions that your government have put through this house. And it’s the fifth time that you have used your majority – not to put forward your legislative agenda, which is legitimate – but to curtail debate, and to ensure that opposition amendments won’t even be considered.

“That’s not legitimate, Taoiseach. That’s not democracy. That turns democracy into a tyranny of the majority. Deliberative democracy goes out the window.”

The deputy proceeded to ask the Taoiseach at what point he thought civil disobedience against covid-19 restrictions would be warranted.

“My question, Taoiseach, is at what point does civil disobedience become legitimate?,” he said.

“Because there’s obviously a point at which it does. You yourself called for civil disobedience in the form of peaceful protest in Belarus last summer, in the teeth of a pandemic, to be allowed and be respected even though they were banned by the government there. So at what point is civil disobedience acceptable and legitimate?”

The Taoiseach responded, though he did not directly address the question.

“We’re not in any way, shape, or form comparable to the Lukashenko regime,” said Martin.

“And in terms of parliament, we want to achieve a balance here. In terms of, people argue for more liberation. You argue that we’re closing down too much, that we haven’t opened fast enough. On the other hand we have to work through the public health advice we receive. And in order to try and implement that public health advice in the context of facilitating the re-opening of hospitality, and trying to get a balance in all of that, the legislation is coming forward. And that’s what we’re endeavouring to do.”

As the Taoiseach concluded his comments, Deputy McNamara could be heard saying “You’ve curtailed debate every time! Five out of five,” and “Why are you afraid of debate?”

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