Establishment of convention motion passed without debate

Fri, Jul 13, 2012, 01:00

SEANAD REPORT:THE CALLING of numerous votes by the Opposition on procedural matters to signify their anger at the allocation of just one hour for a debate on the establishment of the constitutional convention resulted in the motion being taken without debate.

There was uproar when Seanad leader Maurice Cummins (FG) said that as the Tánaiste had been kept waiting for almost 90 minutes to participate, he was proposing that there would be no debate. The establishment motion was passed.

Fianna Fáil members had earlier queried if the debate was being restricted in order to muzzle those on the Government side from participating in a meaningful way.

Darragh O’Brien (FF) said the most contentious reform that had been proposed by the Government was the abolition of the upper chamber. But the Coalition was not allowing that to be considered by the convention despite the fact the House had recently voted in favour of that being done. The time allocation for the debate on the motion should be doubled, as the House was due to sit today to deal with a limited amount of business.

Mr O’Brien complained that Minister of State for health Róisín Shortall accosted one of his party colleagues in the chamber after a vote had been called on the Private Members’ Access to Cancer Treatment Bill, on Wednesday last. He said he wished to lodge a formal complaint over the Minister’s behaviour. Perhaps Ms Shortall had not liked what was being said, but he would have thought she would not be “as thin-skinned as that”. What she had done showed total disregard and disrespect for an elected member of the House. Mr O’Brien added that he was asking the Cathaoirleach and the Leader of the House to relay his party’s deep dissatisfaction at the manner in which the Minister had conducted herself.