Miriam Lord’s Sketch: One last push and a pointless Bill is born, to no joy, but to the relief of all involved
Rancorous debates, on abortion and abolition, finally came to a close
Senators on all sides are unhappy at the idea of scrapping their beloved Seanad. But they also knew they had no chance of defeating the legislation. Time so for the second phase: the fight to save the Upper House; The Battle of the Indulged.
This was a chance for members to demonstrate their oratorical brilliance and show the public what they stand to lose if they reject their chamber’s claim to relevance.
Enda was the villain of the piece for suggesting the Seanad was surplus to requirements. He was compared to Robert Mugabe, Mussolini and the Wizard of Oz in the course of the debate.
David Norris was beside himself. “A very sad day for Seanad Éireann,” he said, lowering the decibel level for a few seconds to prove how seriously he viewed the matter.
Fianna Fáil’s Denis O’Donovan was so dismayed by how his Government counterparts intended to vote that he was moved to quote his grandfather: “May he never be fat, the man who wears two faces under the one hat.” A dark day.
Peter Mathews, when he wasn’t sitting forlornly on the plinth, took up a perch in the press box for the abortion debate. Peter, who relinquished the party whip when he voted against Fine Gael in the Dáil vote, is in the process of being evicted from his office. Except he doesn’t want to go.
Opposition Senators praised him for his brave stand. Peter looked suitably heroic.
Melodrama as Healy-Eames, also late of the Fine Gael parish, declared the abolition vote to be “a defining moment in our history” but one which would be won by “reasoned debate”. Oh dear.
‘Loyalty to the crown’
Marc MacSharry thundered against Government Senators voting “on their loyalty to the crown, as it were” and following party orders. “That’s fundamentally wrong” said the man from Fianna Fáil, without as much as a blush.
Rónán Mullen: we thought he was referring to his own performance during the abortion debate, but he was likening Enda to the Wizard of Oz: “A relatively small man hidden behind a smokescreen of advisers and handlers but making a loud noise, and certainly managing to scare all the people under his command.”
“Most of the people” carolled a defiant Healy Eames.
Opposition Senators were disgusted by the actions of their Government colleagues. “They have completely failed to man up or woman up and resist this grubby little proposal,” sniffed Mullen. The vote was called. Cat calls were directed at the Yes camp. “Turkeys and Christmas! Look at the turkeys voting for Christmas!”
“It’s now over to the people,” said the Cathaoirleach, as the chamber caught its breath with Feargal Quinn’s universally welcomed Construction Contracts Bill.
An excellent example of what the Seanad can do.