Labour Senators deny failure to vote was a bid to undermine Coalition

Government defeated in Seanad on Private Members’ Bill on upward only rent reviews

Senator Feargal Quinn proposed Bill to ban upward-only rent reviews. Photograph Dara Mac Dónaill

Senator Feargal Quinn proposed Bill to ban upward-only rent reviews. Photograph Dara Mac Dónaill

Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 01:00

The Labour Senators who prompted a Government defeat in the Seanad by failing to vote against a Private Members’ Bill have insisted they did not set out to undermine the Coalition or its referendum campaign.

Senators John Kelly, John Whelan, Denis Landy and Jimmy Harte were not in the Upper House to vote against a Bill from Independent Feargal Quinn to ban upward-only rent reviews. It passed by a 27-23 majority, embarrassing the Government on the eve of today’s referendum.

Labour’s Seanad whip Aideen Hayden said: “I received a full explanation from my colleagues. I will give a report on what transpired to the chief whip, Emmet Stagg, and at that stage we will discuss it further.”

Although the Labour leadership formed the view immediately that the failure to vote was connected to resistance to the referendum proposal, the Senators have insisted that was not the case.

Sources within Labour said there had been some confusion within the party over its stance on Mr Quinn’s proposal.

The first sense was that the Bill would not be opposed but this view was reversed on foot of legal advice that the Quinn measures were not in keeping with the Constitution.

‘Urgent business’
Mr Harte had said on Wednesday night that he had to leave for Manchester on urgent business and returned from the city yesterday.

The other three Senators said yesterday that they had made alternative arrangements. “We had an understanding that we were either supporting or abstaining,” Mr Kelly said.

Mr Landy said he had a pairing agreement with an Opposition Senator and said he was at another engagement.

Mr Whelan said he had also attended this engagement.