All calm in our Special Area of Conservation
All around the chamber, the protected members of the Upper House can puff and preen and pontificate – by special order of the people
The serious journalists were following proceedings on the monitors in their offices – with another ear to the business happening in the Dáil.
Never mind: the Senators were delighted to see a big crowd of three journalists in the gallery to cover their resurrection. Some even name-checked the media heroes who had come to see them. Unfortunately, we were all colour writers. The real hot shots were more interested in what was happening in the Dáil. They prefer to follow the real power.
Katherine Zappone, one of the leaders of the No campaign expressed her delight at the outcome and thanked all those who had voted, whatever way. “To vote is a patriotic act at the core of an expression of Irish freedom,” she declared.
Even David Norris remained calm. It would have been “a tragedy” had the referendum been passed, he cried, before pointing to Enda’s “immediate volte face” on the question of reform once the votes had been counted.
Fianna Fáil’s Paschal Mooney joined in the chorus of approval for his fellow Senators’ great show of restraint. A “period of calm and reflection” was needed now. And anyway, why just pick on the Seanad? “The emphasis should not be on this House alone . . . the Dáil is crying out, crying out, for some sort of effective reform.”
They maintained their dignity, despite the terrible slight perpetrated on them by the Lower House. “I, too, call for a period of calm and reflection,” said John’s colleague, Martin Conway.
They talked for an hour and a half.
Over in the Dáil, the Taoiseach was in great form. He told the Fianna Fáil leader that he only got a “wallop” from the electorate, “not a hell of a wallop. Get your words right”.
Enda said he was “up for” engaging with the party leaders about reforming the Seanad, as soon as possible. But he is a busy man.
Micheál Martin said “wallop” as many times as he could.
Enda said Michéal had never done anything to reform the Upper House.
“You’re going back to 2000, it’s 2014 now!” snorted Micheál, slightly ahead of himself.
Back in the Upper House, things were unravelling slightly.
“People should stop kicking us around,” said Labour’s Jimmy Harte. James Heffernan, Labour turned Independent, berated “two of the Taoiseach’s privileged 11” for arguing in favour of abolition.
“You know where the door is,” said Heffernan, who was elected with a whopping 97 votes.
Then he attacked Sinn Féin for siding with the Yes campaign as Fianna Fáil whooped about the Shinners throwing in their lot with Fine Gael.
They finished with a round of applause for their House leader, Maurice Cummins.
All calm, in our new Special Area of Conservation called the Seanad.
With added relevance.