Dáil Dress Code

Did you ever hear such nonsense as the row over how people should dress in our national parliament?

It seems now that an unofficial dress code is on the way, requiring men to wear slacks, a jacket and a shirt with a collar.  Well thank God our democracy is safe at last.  This breakthrough will make all the difference when it comes to governing our country.  It goes without saying that an elected representative will be far more effective if he adopts the sort of uniform preferred by upstanding members of society such as, eh, bankers and eh, solicitors and eh, estate agents and eh, mortgage brokers.


It’s all about appearances, you see, and that’s why Ceann Comhairle, Sean Barrett, spoke out so strongly in favour of what he called a “tailored” shirt.  Given the state of some members, it would be a mercy if only a few more of them would wear loose-fitting t-shirts, but it’s not to be.  With Sean, the collar is everything.  You must have a collar or you’re not showing respect to the parliament, but if you choose to conform and wear the standard business suit as defined in the 20th century, you’re free to screw the country into the ground, you’re free to bail out every crook in the western world and you’re free to fiddle every perk that comes your way before walking off with a giant pension.

You see?  Suits are everything.  That’s why superheroes wear them and that’s why fat, ignorant gobshites in Dáil Éireann wear them too.

Sean is very particular about what clothing is disrespectful and what isn’t, right down to the choice of textile your trousers are made from.  If they happen to be of one particular kind of fabric, you’re being disrespectful.  Grey silk is fine.  Blue serge de Nîmes is not.  Obviously.  Any fool could see that, couldn’t they?

I find Ming Flanagan irritating, even when I agree with him.  His delivery grates on me, and the built-in sneer in his voice makes me want to claw at my eyeballs, but he’s still an elected representative, as are Richard Boyd-Barrett, Mick Wallace and all the other independents.  Their constituents voted for them while knowing perfectly well that they wouldn’t wear a suit.  Indeed, their sartorial preference was the last thing on voters’ minds.  And yet, in a plan that’s as sinister as it is laughable, these representatives and their electorate are to be deprived of a voice in the House.


Well, it seems there’s no constitutional basis for forcing a TD to wear any particular style of clothing, so here’s what will happen instead.  If a member tries to speak, while dressed in a way that Sean Barrett disapproves of, he will simply be ignored, or to put it another way, the Ceann Comhairle will sulk.

The dress code will be enforced by passive aggression.  Those who voted for certain independent TDs will be disenfranchised until such time as the Speaker of the House approves of the apparel being worn by its members.

Women, meanwhile, can wear whatever they want apart from jeans, presumably because Sean Barrett knows nothing whatever about women’s clothing and in any case wouldn’t get away with telling the ladies what to wear.  Saying that, I’m presuming lacy basques with suspenders are out, along with the mankini, and that’s a blessing in itself.

Years ago, this argument sank to unplumbed depths of absurdity when Pól Ó Foighil was denied access to the chamber because his traditional báinín jacket lacked a collar.  Here was a member, wearing a quintessentially Irish garment, refused access to our national assembly for not dressing as they did in Westminster.  Later, Tony Gregory was considered a real maverick because he chose not to wear a tie, but we thought we’d moved on a bit from those stuffy, judgemental days.

Not a bit of it.  At a time when our country faces its gravest ever crisis, when any right-minded parliamentarian should be storming the barricades, denouncing the injustice of the bank bailout and defending the poor from the most savage budget in our history, what are Irish politicians getting worked up about?

Collars on shirts, that’s what.  Collars on shirts.

Doesn’t this tell us a lot about them?  Doesn’t this show us what a drab, unimaginative, hidebound bunch we’re dealing with?  Is it any wonder that an assembly composed of such shallow thinkers has been unable to grapple with the existential threats to our sovereign nation?

Could we seriously expect this lot to come up with original ideas?

I suppose Ming, Mick and Richard will come up with innovative ways to lampoon and ridicule Sean Barrett’s pomposity, and I hope they do so, but at the same time I’d prefer if they didn’t have to deal with such pettiness and instead gave their full attention to their duties as public representatives.  Having laid down the law on collars and on denim, I wonder if Sean will have to issue a list of forbidden colours (for men only)?  How will that work?  Supposing Ming and Joan Burton both turn up in identical shades of cerise, will the Ceann Comhairle find himself informing the country that some colours are for boys and some colours are for girls?

Now that would be fun.


33 thoughts on “Dáil Dress Code

  1. I do think Mick Wallace is almost making a point of trying to look like a hobo. I think within reason, there should be a dress code. I’ve seen Wallace recently on the tv, and he looks like someone who just got out of bed. He is untidy looking. It’s not on in government buildings in my opinion. I wouldn’t go to the pub dressed like Wallace…

  2. Spot on Bock.
    This is tyranny in it’s softest form – no doubt thought up by Common Purpose – but still tyranny.
    Would there be objections if Ming wore a kilt?
    It would scare the police shitless if every unemployed man were bekilted when signing on at the social.
    No need for tartans just something in a tasteful tweed.
    We need a referendum on this.
    Burns has this nailed.

    What though on hamely fare we dine,
    Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
    Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
    A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
    For a’ that, and a’ that,
    Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
    The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
    Is king o’ men for a’ that.


  3. Just consider for a second, what the Dail would be like if the dress code was NUDE. Stark naked. I suspect it’s a lot harder to tell lies, bullshit, and ramble if they were all there without clothes.

  4. Zebra it would be like The Emperors New Suit.
    Imagine Noonan delivering the budget in the scud!

  5. This shite tells us more about us than them. The country is going to hell in a handbasket and our national representatives are fucking whinging about their kids getting teased in school, other fuckers are whinging about how one of their own dresses!
    That Flanagan clown hasnever worked a day in his life so he fits right in there in Fail Eireann

  6. There is something to be said for dress code, for example if Mary McAleese had met the queen or Obama wearing trakkies, would we not all have been really embarrassed, equally, if a family member showed up for a wedding or funeral looking like a minger (pun intended) does it not show a lack of respect.
    hey don’t get me wrong its not a life changer one way or the other.

  7. Actually the more I think about it, the more we all expect a dress code from people every day.
    For example if the Undertaker showed up at your mother’s funeral looking like Mick Wallace would you be impressed?
    Or if the Surgeon you consult with before your bypass looked like Ming would you not have issues about some personal hygiene issues ?

  8. Gerard, you pay an undertaker because he shows up in a suit and respects the funeral tradition

    You pay a surgeon to be hygenic

    They were voted in because of who they are, why would you expect them to change

    Maybe if they were meeting a formal meeting but why in the Dail?

  9. Should the Dail not be considered a formal meeting? Seeing as they get paid a shitload to be there and are representing their constituents? I agree with Gerard. I wouldn’t show up to a funeral or a wedding dressed like Wallace. At least Ming makes a bit of an effort. Can you imagine what Obama would have thought getting introduced to Wallace with his raggy pink tshirt, and hair hanging over his face?

  10. We’d need to be very wary about silencing elected members, even when we don’t like the cut of their jib. Otherwise, we open the door for future governments to muzzle criticism by devising spurious grounds for excluding their opponents from participation in the Dáil.

  11. Barry and Gerard – met your type before. Long hair and jeans = lack of hygiene.
    Get a fucken grip, its the 21st century. Some of the best people I have ever worked with, dress as they please. Some of the worst are suited and booted. Usually because they hope appearing suited and booted will help to hide their inadequacies when it comes to performing the job in hand.

  12. Bock you are dead right that stupid arguments shouldn’t silence any elected representative, on the other hand why can’t he just wear the made to measure suit he had made by Louis Copeland in the Dail!
    Man of the people my hole!

  13. It seems to me that men in expensive suits have shown far more disrespect to our democracy than Ming ever did by wearing a jumper.

  14. @Magwa Brown. What do you mean “your type”. Where did you meet “my type”? You know nothing about me! I play music, so am constantly surrounded with long hair and jeans type, and once had long hair myself :) . However, when I did have long hair, I made a little bit of an effort to look presentable when I went to formal dos, or work. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look smart. Wallace is taking the piss. He’s a scruffy looking f*cker. Saying that I don’t want to look like the rest of the pot bellied apes in the Dail either.

    Now, it’s all irrelevant, as it’s what comes out of their mouths should be the most important thing, but would you prefer if they were all in shell suits in the Dail?

    Why do people dress up going to funerals? To show a bit of respect to the dead person’s family. That’s why I do it anyways, to show I made a little bit of effort to look presentable rather than showing up in paint spattered jeans and giving the auld “sorry for your troubles”.

    I think they should be made wear collars, or a shirt at least,and no trainers. After that I couldn’t care less. If Wallace had any bit of pride in his appearance, he’d at least brush the hair back, or tie it back, just like Ming!! Ming looks presentable on tv, and in the Dail. Wallace just looks like he doesn’t give a shit about his appearance. I get the feeling there is a smell of chip oil out of his kitchen, and his sofa is probably covered in cat hair…………

  15. “Why do people dress up going to funerals? To show a bit of respect to the dead person’s family.”. Huh. And there was I thinking it was to show some last respects to the dead person. Plus, they really only do it because everyone else does

    Personally, barry, I think that all people called barry who post on internet forums should “be made” wear a thong, crocs and a chicken suit. Trainers optional. After that I couldn’t care less.

    “Be Made”. Jesus H Christ.

    If you actually care about how Mick Wallace or anyone else looks, if you would actually base even the smallest iota of your decision to vote based on how someone dressed, then I am…actually, I am not surprised! Your attitude is the same one that kept these ignorant fuckers in power (and I don’t care who you voted for the last time out) for all these years…..

  16. Well, the dead person is dead. How will they know what you have on! Yes, they should be made adhere to a basic dress code. Imagine sending Wallace with his hair and pink tshirt to Brussels. Whether you like it or not, nobody will take him seriously in his current get up.
    I would vote for Ming by the way, a so called “pot head”

  17. We need to draw a distinction between sitting in the Dáil and external activity. I see no difficulty at all with requiring people to dress in a particular way when engaged on activities that are not of a fundamental parliamentary nature. Within reason.

    However, the right to speak in the Dáil is conferred by the electorate, and by nobody else. Sean Barrett has no authority to disenfranchise voters based on his personal sartorial prejudices.

  18. That’s just my impression of Wallace. I have nothing else against him, but every time I see him on tv, I go “what the feck!!??”. I say the same thing about Willie O Dea though…….
    But in fairness to Mick, he’ll never be as bad looking as the Healy Raes or Silvio Berlusconi……….

  19. In case you think otherwise, I’m not defending Mick Wallace’s fashion sense. I personally think he looks ridiculous.

    My point is simply that nobody has the right to exclude an elected member from the democratic process except those who elected him.

  20. Yes, I suppose I agree. He shouldn’t be excluded just because he looks like Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, but it’s comes across to me like he is making a point of not being neat. Now, you can be sure lots of suit monkeys on Saturday and Sundays look worse than Mick, but Mick is beyond a joke….

  21. @barry – personally I think he looks silly. Personally I think that he’s a rotten politician. But that’s personal opinion. It’s got nothing to do with his ability to do (or do not) his job which is to represent the people who elected him…the entire point here is that it’s absolutely wrong to refuse to engage with the man just because *you* don’t like how he looks or because he might be trying to make a statement with his appearance that you don’t agree with. I mean come on, the Dail is filled with ugly, rednecked, thick country accented motherfuckers, do we start ignoring people because we find their accents irritating? Or because they are overweight? And even if these were somehow valid reasons, surely it’s up to the people (you and I) to decide this by popular vote, and not the chairman of the Dail who is basically treating a public office as a private club. It’s tyranny, plain and simple.

  22. Just a small point here but Wallace and Flanagan are not there to represent the people that voted for them, they are there to represent everybody’s best interest and if these clowns understood that maybe we wouldn’t be in so much shit!!!!!!!

  23. @ Barry
    Your type? Long hair and jeans = lack of hygiene. What dont you get?
    Nice to see you play music though and are constantly surrounder by the long hair and jeans type. Imagine when all those long hairs start shaken their heads (full of fleas – probably) in time to the music, you must find that insufferable. It would appear you suffer greatly for your art, fair play to you Barry.
    A quote from your earlier post ” Wallace with his raggy pink tshirt, and hair hanging over his face?”

  24. Interesting that fast food chains have a dress code to serve food, one recently came out with a statement that they will not employ anyone with visible tattoos,
    So like it or not we all have only one opportunity to make a first impression,
    When I go to visit customers I have to dress appropriately otherwise I would never get taken seriously (or get beyond the Receptionist/Security)

  25. But Ming, Mick and the rest got past the ultimate security, didn’t they — the electorate.

    And if those security people thought their mode of dress was acceptable, who is entitled to disagree?

  26. @Rob, yes of course you are correct, they are indeed supposed to server everyone
    @Gerard – Fast food restaurants are privately owned businesses. They can require their employees to wear chicken suits or short shorts and skimpy tops or whatever. (although refusing to employ someone with a visible tattoo is probably one court-case away from hilarity, imagine suing McDonalds for the right to work there. Then again with things the way they are, maybe I shouldn’t be laughing just yet). That’s different to a public office where the members are there to run the country on our behalf….

  27. @Steve. I agree. I wouldn’t refuse to engage with Mick Wallace just because of how he looks, but it’s true when they say “first impressions last………..”

  28. Lads,lads.
    Books and covers.
    Form over substance or what?
    Evo Morales has laid that old duck to rest.
    The rest of the planet knows that the Irish have as much sense of style as
    a spanner.
    We do understated scruffiness well.
    From reading the above any disinterested observer might conclude that Bock’s
    constituency is made up of frustrated male models.
    Do you all wear male moisterising products?

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