Thursday, 14 June 2007
Election of Ceann Comhairle.
I would like to put forward the name of Deputy Ruairí Quinn for the position of Ceann Comhairle. From memory I do not recall a contest for this position since 1989. I think it is important there be a contest. The position of Ceann Comhairle is a very important role that is recognised in the Constitution. The task of the Ceann Comhairle is not merely to manage the efficient functioning of this House but to apply the rules fairly and impartially. The declaration to be taken by the Ceann Comhairle reads as follows:
I do solemnly declare that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my knowledge and ability execute the office of Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann without fear or favour, apply the rules as laid down by this House in an impartial and fair manner, maintain order and uphold the rights and privileges of members in accordance with the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann.
The function of the Ceann Comhairle as set out in that declaration is not merely to manage the efficient running of the House but to uphold the rights and privileges of all Members. For many decades it was the practice that the Ceann Comhairle would be drawn from the Opposition. I think that practice had a great deal to recommend it and in circumstances where the same Government has been in office for 20 years, with a minor intervention of two and a half years, it is especially important that the Chair is taken by a member of the Opposition.
My colleague Deputy Ruairí Quinn is immensely respected as a parliamentarian. He has extensive ministerial experience as he held office as Minister for Labour, Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Enterprise and Employment and latterly as Minister for Finance. He has been a Member for a very long time and has the respect of his colleagues. He would be ideally suited to the position of Ceann Comhairle. I have no wish to refight the battles of the 29th Dáil or of previous Dáileanna, but many on this side believe the position of Parliament vis-À-vis the Executive has been eroded in recent years. That is not desirable and this House should assert its position as Dáil Éireann. It will be very difficult to do that without reflecting on the candidacy of anyone for this post, if the Taoiseach, having come here in 2002 and nominated the chairman of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party to supervise the affairs of this House, now proposes to transfer a Minister from Cabinet who is known for his views. I respect him having partisan views, but he has partisan views.
——is not the way to treat the House. We should revert to the practice of a distinguished Member of the Opposition holding the position of Ceann Comhairle. None is more distinguished than my colleague, Deputy Ruairí Quinn. I have pleasure in proposing him for the position.
Ba mhaith liomsa cuidiú leis an rún faoi ainm Ruairí Quinn a mholadh mar ainm don Ceann Comhairle.
The convention for many years was that the House would first consider the ability of the outgoing Ceann Comhairle to continue in office given his free pass in terms of re-election. However, that convention was broken by Fianna Fáil in 1973 when the late Deputy Cormac Breslin was withdrawn from office in order to reduce the numbers of the Fine Gael-Labour coalition then seeking office. While we had our jousts with Deputy Rory O'Hanlon in the 29th Dáil, I pay tribute to him on the manner in which he conducted his business nationally and internationally on behalf of this House.
It gives me particular pleasure to second Deputy Rabbitte's nomination of Deputy Ruairí Quinn for the office of Ceann Comhairle. I served for a short period as junior minister with Deputy Quinn when Minister for Labour during the 1980s. He has given outstanding service to the Oireachtas and to the Irish public as a junior and senior Minister, as Leader of the Labour Party and as a parliamentarian. I agree that it is only right and proper that there be a contest in this regard and that the House should decide on the merits of the candidates put forward. I have great pleasure in formally seconding Deputy Ruairí Quinn's nomination as Ceann Comhairle of the 30th Dáil.
Tá dhá thairiscint faoi bhráid an Tí. De réir na mBuan Orduithe, tógfar iad ins an ord a tairgeadh iad. There are two motions before the House and, in accordance with Standing Orders, they will be taken in the order in which they were proposed.
Tá mé ag cur na ceiste: "Go dtoghfar an Teachta John O'Donoghue agus go rachaidh sé i gceannas na Dála anois mar Cheann Comhairle."
I am putting the question: "That Deputy John O'Donoghue be elected and do now take the Chair of the Dáil as Ceann Comhairle."
The Dail Divided:
For the motion: 90 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry Andrews, Chris Andrews, Seán Ardagh, Bobby Aylward, Joe Behan, Niall Blaney, Áine Brady, Cyprian Brady, Johnny Brady, Séamus Brennan, John Browne, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Pat Carey, Niall Collins, Margaret Conlon, Seán Connick, Mary Coughlan, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Ciarán Cuffe, Martin Cullen, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Beverley Flynn, Pat Gallagher, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Séamus Kirk, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael Lowry, Martin Mansergh, Micheál Martin, Jim McDaid, Tom McEllistrim, Finian McGrath, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Darragh O'Brien, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, Batt O'Keeffe, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)
Against the motion: 75 (Bernard Allen, James Bannon, Seán Barrett, Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Simon Coveney, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Joe McHugh, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kelleher and Tom Kitt; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.
Question declared carried.
Iarraim anois ar an Teachta Seán Ó Donnchú, Comhalta do Dháilcheantar Ciarraí Theas, dul i gceannas an 30ú Dáil Éireann.
I now call on Deputy John O'Donoghue, Member for the Constituency of Kerry South, to take the Chair of this 30th Dáil.
Whereupon Members rose in their places and remained standing while the Ceann Comhairle proceeded to the Dais.
Standing beside the Chair, the Ceann Comhairle, addressing the Dáil, said:
A Theachtaí, ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a gabháil libh as mé a thoghadh mar Cheann Comhairle Dháil Éireann inniu. Is mór an onóir domsa é. Geallaim libh go léir go ndéanfaidh mé mo dhícheall chun cothrom na féinne a thabhairt do gach uile Theachta anseo agus iarraim oraibh cabhrú liom chun dualgas na hoifige seo a chomhlíonadh mar is cóir.
I thank Members for electing me as Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann today. It is a great honour for me and I promise all Members that I will do my best to deal fairly with each and every Deputy in the House. I ask all Members for their assistance in properly fulfilling the duties of this office.
My aim will be to carry out the work of the Chair in such a manner as to give full expression to all Members consistent with Standing Orders and the due business of the House before us. I realise it is impossible to carry out the work of the House without the full co-operation of all Members and because of this, I sincerely seek such co-operation. A vibrant parliament is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy. The manner in which we conduct our business as laid down by the Constitution is important to how we as Members of this House are perceived. The occasion of the election of Ceann Comhairle brings a focus to the office and Parliament.
Sometimes, although what are perceived as archaic rules are overly associated with how the Chair is obliged to administer, the two should not be confused. The rules are a matter for the House itself. Almost all reform is on an all-party basis and it is the Ceann Comhairle's job to administer the rules. The Chair has the unenviable task sometimes of being obliged to implement the rules laid down by Members, which can appear to be overly authoritarian. It can be a case of shooting the messenger and can lead over the years to a certain loss of respect for the Chair. At all times, the Chair must be respected and I encourage Members, as indeed my predecessor has done many times, to change whatever rules they believe have become outmoded. I know I will have Members' goodwill and intend to earn their respect in the fair manner in which I will discharge my duties.
As on the last occasion, there are a significant number of new Members, that is, 49 and I offer them my congratulations on their election. A familiarisation programme for new Members has been undertaken over recent weeks and most of them will be reasonably familiar with their role and surroundings. For my own part, my door is always open. Any Members who may feel aggravated by any decision of mine——
——although this is unlikely as Members appear to be a reasonably compliant set of people.
The people have greatly honoured us by electing us to represent and serve them. To so do effectively, we must be efficient, professional and modern in carrying out our business. These disciplines also extend to the administrative services supporting the work of the Houses that have a direct impact on Members' everyday work. As incoming chairman of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, I will work with the new commission members, when appointed, to build on the significant improvements in parliamentary services that were delivered in the previous Dáil.
In seeking to uphold the best traditions of the House, it is important to remember my many illustrious predecessors. There have been many and I am acutely aware of this as I take up this position today. However, I refer in particular to my immediate predecessor, Deputy O'Hanlon. The outgoing Ceann Comhairle made an invaluable contribution in upholding the dignity and decorum as presiding Member of this House. He performed his duties as Ceann Comhairle in an exemplary fashion and was worthy of the support of all Members. Moreover, the success of the inaugural Houses of the Oireachtas Commission owes much to his sterling work and astute chairmanship.
I must now perform my first official duty as Ceann Comhairle. In accordance with Standing Order No. 8 of the Standing Orders relative to Public Business, I wish to make the following declaration:
I do solemnly declare that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my knowledge and ability, execute the office of Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann without fear or favour, apply the rules as laid down by this House in an impartial manner, maintain order and uphold the rights and privileges of Members in accordance with the Constitution and the Standing Orders of this House.
I wish to reiterate my gratitude to fellow Deputies. I shall strive earnestly to prove worthy of the honour, confidence and trust you have placed in me.
The Ceann Comhairle took the Chair.