Miriam Lord’s Week

From Senators in Japan and to the President’s lovely horse

Most Senators knew nothing of the visit to ‘the Land of the Rapidly Rising Row’ until they read about it last week. Photograph: Getty

Most Senators knew nothing of the visit to ‘the Land of the Rapidly Rising Row’ until they read about it last week. Photograph: Getty

Sat, Feb 22, 2014, 07:33

Japanese trip sees Seanad all fired up

Our report two weeks ago about a select group of Senators (and one TD) travelling to Japan for a six-night luxury trip to Tokyo and Osaka has caused consternation in the Seanad and claims of interference by the Dáil in their business.

It also led to Senator David Norris suggesting a Labour Party TD “must have gone around posing as a Senator” during last week’s trip and that his Japanese hosts would “have gone mad” had they known the visiting group included an interloper from the Lower House.

Seanad Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke travelled with Fine Gael colleagues Terry “The Scoob” Brennan and Pat O’Neill, Fianna Fáil Senator Ned O’Sullivan and Labour TD Jack Wall .

The interparliamentary bilateral trip was at the invitation of Japan’s Upper House. These trips are organised according to very strict protocol – TDs only on visits to their Lower House and Senators only when the invite comes from their Upper House.

Most Senators knew nothing of last week’s visit to The Land of the Rapidly Rising Row until they read about it here.

“How could a TD have been on it – this could have caused an international incident,” huffed one of them.

David Norris broached the issue in the chamber. He got support from Labour’s Aideen Hayden who said it was disgraceful no woman was included, while Ivana Bacik said she had no advance notice of the trip, despite being Labour’s leader in the Upper House. She was in the process of making inquiries about his.

Even though the invitation was issued directly to the Seanad, “a member of the Lower House was foisted on this group by the Labour Party” fumed Norris, as he wondered if Deputy Jack Wall had passed himself off as a Senator.

“How did that happen? Did the Japanese know about that? It must have been a considerable source of embarrassment.”

It now seems Labour’s chief whip may have had a hand in the decision.

“If someone like deputy Emmet Stagg sticks his nose in again, I hope he will be properly told by the Cathaoirleach to bugger off.”

Norris added that if he doesn’t get a satisfactory explanation “I will write to the Japanese ambassador to advise him of this insult to the Japanese parliament. I know how they feel about these kind of issues of protocol.”

Having discussed this outrage with colleagues on all sides, Senator Bacik said it should be put on the agenda for the next meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. “Perhaps we will have cross-party support for it.” That’s a given.

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