May 30th, 1936
FROM THE ARCHIVES:The Free State’s senate was abolished by Fianna Fáil on the grounds it was unnecessary, but mainly because of its independence and the number of former unionists it included. The anonymous Political Correspondent summed up the situation in the aftermath. – JOE JOYCE
THE ABOLITION of the Free State Senate is now an accomplished fact. By a resolution of the Dáil, passed on Thursday night, the bill for this purpose – known as Constitution (Amendment No. 24) Bill – was “deemed” to have been passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, and yesterday it received the Royal Assent through the signature of the Governor-General (Mr. Donal Buckley). The bill is now an Act of the Oireachtas.
The first reaction to the passing of the Act was the appearance at Leinster House yesterday of a number of former Senators, who came to remove their belongings from their lockers in the lobby.
The abolition of the Senate will have various implications, some of which will not be at once apparent. One immediate effect of it, however, will concern the position of Mr. Joseph Connolly, Minister for Lands, who, by virtue of his membership of the Senate, was eligible for membership of the Executive Council [Cabinet]. It is understood that a resolution of the Dáil will be required to regularise his position, and that notice of such a motion probably will be given in the coming week.
It is also learned that a bill amending the Oireachtas (Payment of Members) Act will be necessary to legalise certain matters, and there will be a comprehensive bill to delete all references in previous Acts of the Oireachtas to the Senate. This is necessary to obviate the requirement of many Acts that regulations made under them should be approved by the Senate as well as the Dáil.
Members of the late Senate will, it is understood, continue to enjoy the privileges to which they have been accustomed . . .
The next step will be the setting up of the Committee which President de Valera outlined on Thursday evening. This Committee, it appears, is to be asked to formulate a scheme for the constitution of an alternative Chamber to that removed. The President seemed anxious that all parties should be represented on it.
Members of the Opposition are intrigued by what they regard as his sudden realisation of the existence of other parties in the House beside the Government Party. As one noted, the President could have had such a Committee at any time since the Senate refused to give a second reading to the Abolition Bill.
The Senators expressed their willingness to pass the bill if an alternative Chamber were provided, and a conference of both Houses was held to discuss such other amendments as might be desired. They asked for a joint committee of both Houses to “consider and report on the changes, if any, necessary in the constitution and powers of the Senate.” These gestures were disregarded by he Government.