Seanad 'made case for abolition' in blocking debate with Gilmore
SEANAD:THERE WAS no question that Senators had made a case last Thursday for the abolition of the Seanad, Catherine Noone (FG) said. She supported the criticism of Katherine Zappone (Ind) and Michael Mullins (FG) with regard to the behaviour of the Opposition in calling a series of votes while Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore waited to address the House on the issue of the constitutional convention.
Ms Zappone said she regarded the establishment of the convention as a matter of exceptional historic importance. The calling of votes on an extensive string of motions had the effect of blocking a debate with Mr Gilmore by taking up the time allocated. She believed it behoved Senators to reflect on the use of procedures and the wisdom of interrupting the work of the House in this way.
Not only had the Tánaiste been kept standing outside the door for more than 90 minutes, she and other members who had wished to participate in a democratic exchange had been silenced. As a result, the convention resolution had been passed without a debate.
“So, as a litmus test as well of how members of the public view this use of our time in the Seanad, perhaps we should listen carefully to the voice from the public gallery who shouted his judgment, having witnessed the entire sequence of events, ‘shame on you’,” Ms Zappone added.
She urged that the Committee on Procedure and Privileges examine whether the Seanad rules relevant to the procedures utilised last Thursday required some form of amendment.
David Norris (Ind) said he respectfully disagreed with Ms Zappone. The way Seanad business had been organised meant Senators would not have had time to discuss the motion properly.
The House had been lied to as they had been told the Tánaiste was not available “and then he was made available when it suited him”, added Mr Norris.