Government has one vote majority in Seanad after Labour Senators abstain in pylons row

Motion called for legislation to high voltage lines underground but was rejected

Ae motion from Independent Ronan Mullen, seconded by Sinn Féin, called for legislation to regulate the construction and siting of high-voltage lines and to “make provision for the placing of such high voltage electricity transmission lines underground” where possible. Photograph: Wolfgang von Brauchitsch/Bloomberg News

Ae motion from Independent Ronan Mullen, seconded by Sinn Féin, called for legislation to regulate the construction and siting of high-voltage lines and to “make provision for the placing of such high voltage electricity transmission lines underground” where possible. Photograph: Wolfgang von Brauchitsch/Bloomberg News

 


The Government had a single vote victory in a Seanad private member’s motion on electricity pylons after three Labour Party Senators abstained.

The motion from Independent Ronan Mullen, seconded by Sinn Féin, called for legislation to regulate the construction and siting of high-voltage lines and to “make provision for the placing of such high voltage electricity transmission lines underground” where possible.

Government backbenchers John Kelly, Denis Landy and John Whelan abstained in the vote, resulting in a 26 to 25 win for the Coalition.


Major re-think
Mr Mullen said that if instead of abstaining the Labour Senators had voted for the motion, the Government would have been forced into a major re-think on the issue.

He insisted he would still bring forward legislation on the issue despite the defeat of his motion.

EirGrid plans for the Munster connector to include overhead pylons.

Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte has already said underground placement would cost more than three times as much as the alternative.

However, Mr Mullen said some of the pylons would be “taller than a five-story building”.

He said such pylons would blight the landscape.

Earlier Mary White (FF) said Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald had been dealing with the crisis around adoptions from Russia since July and “would want to get her act together”.


Search for resolution
But Ms White said

Russian babies and their potential parents’ future “rests in her hands. We must find a resolution as soon as possible.”

She said families adopting children had gone through the process but the adoptions had been stalled and the families were enduring a state of extreme uncertainty and emotional pain on this issue.

“While the couples in question very much appreciate the commitment of Attorney General Máire Whelan to a possible retrospective clause in an amendment, we must continue to fight on behalf of these families.”

Ms White said the Minister had said it was possible to amend the law retrospectively to allow families holding declarations of eligibility and suitability to adopt.