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TDs balk at efforts to button them down

A new dress code ruling that would have compelled TDs to wear a "tailored jacket and a collared shirt" in the Déil have been consigned to the closet, at least for now.

The Committee on Procedure and Privileges had agreed that male TDs could be forcibly removed from the Dáil chamber if they turned up in casual attire. the new rule would have also barred women TDs in jeans.

And, according to reports, the code had received the public backing of high profile ministers including one who said it was not appropriate to dress in a casual manner when dealing with issues of a national importance.

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"There had been much speculation over whether Independent TD Mick Wallace would be forced to wear a tie with his pink shirt, and if Gerry Adams would have to put on a jacket on over his shirt-sleeves, but now it seems TDs can continue to dress as they please," the Irish Independent reported.

In addition to Wallace and Adams, TD Luke Flanagan, and People Before Profit's Richard Boyd-Barrett were among those most likely to be affected by the new dress code.

Boyd-Barrett would not be drawn on whether he would abide by the new rules but branded them as "pathetic and "further evidence that we have a government of clowns."

"The country is drowning in debt, we have half a million people unemployed, we have people facing the loss of their homes and cuts to the most vulnerable, and these clowns are wondering what people wear in the Dail. It's pathetic," he said.

Boyd-Barrett often wears jeans in the Dail chamber and shirts not tucked in, while Mr. Flanagan, whose nickname is "Ming," wears his shirts buttoned up to the neck and out over his trousers. Wexford TD Mick Wallace usually brings a dash of color to the chamber with his trademark pink shirts. None of the men wear formal jackets.

Gerry Adams often takes Leaders' Questions without a jacket and with his sleeves rolled up.

The Committee on Procedures and Privileges also made news recently when it banned calls to premium-rate numbers from Leinster House telephones.

It is understood Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett, who chairs the committee, was driving the issue, but just one TD dissented out of the 10-strong membership.

Independent TD Catherine Murphy said of the dress issue: "There was a very strict dress code in Anglo Irish Bank. Dress codes don't necessarily mean people do things with the right motivation."

The issue of dress in the Dáil is nothing new. The late Tony Gregory, who for many years served as a TD for an inner city Dublin constituency, broke with convention in the 1980s when he refused to wear a tie in the Dáil chamber.

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