Senators demand Minister of State explain ‘bribe’ claim

FG Senators distance themselves from party press statement critical of Independent colleagues

Ciaran Cannon: claimed he would be guaranteed Seanad seat.

Ciaran Cannon: claimed he would be guaranteed Seanad seat.


Senators have demanded that Minister of State Ciaran Cannon address the House on a claim that a Fianna Fail Senator tried to bribe him.

Mr Cannon was a government nominee to the Seanad, as a member of the Progressive Democrats, in 2007. He later became party leader, but left to join Fine Gael before the party dissolved in 2009.

Sean D Barrett (Ind) said the claim by Mr Cannon, who represents Galway East, had been published in the Connacht Tribune. Mr Cannon had claimed that in early 2009, when he was a Progressive Democrat Senator, his Fianna Fáil colleagues became suspicious that he was about to quit the government benches and join Fine Gael in opposition.

He was approached by “a very senior Fianna Fáil Senator’’ and told that he if remained “on side’’ Fianna Fáil would guarantee him a seat for life in the Seanad, “with a nice salary and the spare time to pursue another career’’.

Demanding that the Minister of State explain to the House “why he had a sudden recollection of an incident which should have been report when it happened in 2009’’, Mr Barrett said it was a most serious charge and designed to destroy the Seanad’s credibility. “I do not believe that any member of the Seanad engaged in bribery and corruption.’’

Ned O’Sullivan (FF) said he was shocked by Mr Cannon’s allegation. “I was in my first term in the Seanad when he was a member of this House, so, obviously, he is not referring to me. But it is a slur on every Fianna Fáil member of the House at that time.’’

Labhras O Murchu (FF) said one the referendum’s legacies would be the type of dishonesty that was part of the campaign.

Fine Gael Senators criticised a statement issued by the party’s press office, as part of the referendum campaign, which referred to Independent Senators John Crown and Feargal Quinn.

Catherine Noone (FG) said “a personalised attack’’ was made on two Seanad colleagues who were extremely effective. “It was a deplorable and retrograde step for my party in its referendum campaign.’’

Terry Brennan (FG) said he also wanted to dissociate himself from the “personalised nature’’ of the comments. “They have been two of the most significant contributors to the Seanad since I joined the chamber.’’

Michael Mullins (FG) said he had no difficulty in totally dissociating himself from the statement referring to “two of the finest gentlemen in, and contributors to, this House’’. It was “appalling’’ and reflected badly on the party.

“I am ashamed of it. I have no difficulty saying that.’’