Seanad will not move to Farmleigh over chamber repairs

Senator Maurice Cummins rules out venue as renovation of roof is delayed until 2016

Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden suggested the Seanad be held at Farmleigh in Phoenix Park. File photograph: Alan Betson

Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden suggested the Seanad be held at Farmleigh in Phoenix Park. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

Suggestions that Senators may operate from the plush surrounds of Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park while the Seanad chamber undergoes roof repairs, have been firmly knocked on the head.

A few flights of fancy were expressed on Tuesday about possible alternative venues but Seanad leader Maurice Cummins firmly ruled out any notion of locating the Upper House in the former home of the Guinness family.

Fianna Fáil Senator Terry Leyden had read a newspaper report that the Seanad might not meet in the chamber, when the new term starts on September 23rd.

“I suggest we go to Farmleigh and that there should be a separation of both Houses of the Oireachtas,” he told the House.

“The Dáil can stay in its chamber, and I have no particular wish to sit there for two days so we should move to Farmleigh,” he said of suggestions that the Seanad might sit in the Dáil chamber on Mondays and Fridays.

Farmleigh, the Co Roscommon Senator said “has good facilities and good parking. I was never invited there but from what I see on the television it is very nice.”

Out of order

But ruling it out of order, Mr Cummins told him: “I have no intention, and I do not believe there will be any intention, of going to Farmleigh.

“The last thing people want is a flood of cars, be they State cars or others, going up to Farmleigh. They did not welcome it in the past and they will not welcome it now,” he said recalling the disastrous PR fallout after the then coalition held an emergency Cabinet meeting at Farmleigh in October 2010 and each minister arrived separately in their own chauffeur-driven car.

The Seanad is in fact expected to return to its home in September and refurbishment works are not expected until next year, perhaps after the general election, of the wooden struts in the roof above the chamber.

The Seanad committee on procedure and privileges is discussing the issue and the most likely venue is understood to be one of the Leinster House committee rooms.

Mr Leyden did note that in the late 1980s business was conducted in the Seanad ante-chamber for two years while other repair work was underway.