The Judicial Appointments Bill


Sir, – There were a few significant omissions from Miriam Lord’s account in Saturday’s Irish Times (April 20th) of the Government’s failed attempt to guillotine the Senate on the Judicial Appointments Bill. The vote was on an amendment to prevent the guillotine which I placed before the House on the order of business.

Miriam Lord is correct in that on the first occasion there was an apparent equality of votes due to the mis-voting of Grace O’Sullivan and the Cathaoirleach voting with the Government, meaning the amendment failed. That having been done, the incorrect vote would have stood legally.

However, I then called as I was entitled for a walk-through vote and on this occasion we won by two votes, Grace O’Sullivan voting correctly this time and a new member on our side arrived in time for the second vote. Thus was the Government and its guillotine plan frustrated by my amendment.

Those opposed to the guillotining had felt that the issue was lost but the pushing of the second vote on my amendment clarified the situation and meant that the Government was conclusively defeated. This was very significant in the light of the fact that the attempt to guillotine the Bill was a serious retreat by the Government on the commitment given by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to the house that new politics meant that the guillotine would not be used. All in all a good day for parliamentary democracy. – Yours, etc,


Leinster House,

Dublin 2.