Labour Senators and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh form technical group

Group set up so Labour Party four and ex-SF member could keep Seanad speaking rights

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and the Labour Party group of Senators have formed a new Seanad technical group. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and the Labour Party group of Senators have formed a new Seanad technical group. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, who recently resigned from Sinn Féin, and the Labour Party group of Senators have formed a new Seanad technical group.

The new five-member group was established so that both Mr Ó Clochartaigh and Labour could keep speaking rights in the Upper House.

Mr Ó Clochartaigh was set to lose all speaking rights following his resignation last month from the party.

The Labour Senators were short one member to give them the required five to retain speaking rights, following the resignation of their party colleague Senator Denis Landy on health grounds.

Mr Ó Clochartaigh said last night it was purely a technical group. “We have no common policy platform on anything. I’m totally independent on all policy debates. There’s no arrangement other than we’re divvying out the speaking time and places on committees,” he said.

“Labour lost all speaking rights and positions on committees, or they would have, because of Denis’s resignation. I was also going to be left with no options, sitting on the backbenches,” he said.

‘Mutually beneficial’

“So it was mutually beneficial to set up a technical group, purely for technical reasons to give us places on committees.”

Mr Ó Clochartaigh said the other independent groups are already bigger and have more people in them, and he would have been asking them to give him speaking rights and give up spaces on committees.

Mr Ó Clochartaigh was on the Education and the Irish language and Gaeltacht committee. He said there would be changes but he hoped to get on the Rural and Community committee, although he would continue to attend the Irish language committee.

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys also stressed Mr Ó Clochartaigh’s membership of the new group was purely technical. “Trevor hasn’t joined the Labour Party or anything like that.”

Labour has moved the writ for the byelection to elect a successor to Mr Landy, but it is up to the Government to set the date.

Mr Ó Clochartaigh left Sinn Féin in a row he said was over inaction by the party over his complaints on disciplinary matters as well as “serous concerns over the future of the party in the constituency”.

Sinn Féin claimed the resignation was motivated by his fears he would not win the party’s Galway West selection convention. He rejected the claim.