Kirk elected Ceann Comhairle
Louth Fianna Fáil TD Séamus Kirk has been elected the new Ceann Comhairle following the resignation of John O’Donoghue.
Mr Kirk was nominated by Taoiseach Brian Cowen, who said he had “huge experience” in the workings of our parliamentary democracy.
The Taoiseach said Mr Kirk was a man of “great courtesy and quiet wisdom”.
“I know he has the capacity and ability to do an oustanding job of Ceann Comhairle with fairness, impartiality and decorum.”
Mr Cowen also paid tribute to the outgoing Ceann Comhairle, John O’Donoghue.
“I think all members will agree that he conducted all business with fairness and sound judgment,” Mr Cowen said.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny proposed Donegal South West TD Dinny McGinley for the post, saying he was “a person of absolute integrity” who would fulfil the office with distinction.
Mr McGinley had the commitment and energy to lead and drive the necessary parliamentary reforms that were absolutely critical to restore trust in the body politic, Mr Kenny said.
He said the office of Ceann Comhairle should be above politics and should be seen to be above politics. He said Mr Kirk was chairman of his own political party and that this was not a “fresh beginning...but more of the same”.
Mr Kenny said that any “unwarranted expenses” that were paid to previous holders of the office holders, if they were found to be so, should be paid back.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore, who called for Mr O’Donoghue’s resignation in the Dáil last week, said his party would not oppose the nomination of Mr Kirk, who was someone held in respect by the Labour Party.
Mr Gilmore acknowledged the fairness with which Mr O’Donoghue had carried out his role as Ceann Comhairle. But he said he had not denied Mr O’Donoghue his right to address the House and to make his case in relation to the controversy surrounding his expenses.
Mr Gilmore said he had not agreed that Mr O’Donoghue should address the matter by means of outlining his case to the committee of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, which in effect was a “private” forum.
Mr Kirk was elected on a vote of 87 to 51.
Mr Kirk (64) was first elected in 1982. He is a former junior agriculture minister.