Use of chamber for discussion on abolition or reform of House criticised

 

SEANAD:THE MAKING available of the Seanad chamber for a discussion by non-politicians on the future of the House was akin to offering the floor of the UN general assembly to the rebels in Syria, Marc MacSharry (FF) contended.

Some Government and Opposition members expressed concern over the decision of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP) to facilitate the use of the chamber for a conference session on Monday next dealing with the abolition or reform of second chambers.

Mr MacSharry said the provision of the chamber for this purpose seemed to be playing into the Government agenda of manipulating a process to guarantee abolition of the House.

Paschal Mooney (FF) said he thought the House should be given the opportunity to overturn the decision. Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke (FG) said there could not be a vote. The decision had been made by the CPP.

The sitting was adjourned for a time during a debate on the Gaeltacht Bill, when a number of members complained that the headphones for the English translation service were not working. Brian Ó Domhnaill (FF) said they could not have non-Irish speakers not knowing what was happening.

Criticising the proposed abolition of direct elections to Údarás na Gaeltachta, Seán Barrett (Ind) said denying people democratic representation would sound the death knell of the Irish language.

Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley said he would make no apology for the saving of €500,000 on direct elections at a time when there were so many demands on public expenditure.