Seanad debates

Thursday, 22 September 2022

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Gerard CraughwellGerard Craughwell (Independent)

Yesterday, we had a debate on the issue of search and rescue procurement. Most of those who spoke agreed that there were questions to be answered and called on the Minister of State to answer them. The Minister of State was aware of the questions I have been asking since August. I asked them on the floor of the House yesterday because they needed to be asked. The Minister of State was not coming in to be surprised by me or anybody else. I say to everybody that when we allow Ministers to come before the House to provide answers that are vague, to not answer the questions that were asked or to leave themselves in a position where they are unable to say, like most good teachers would say, that they are sorry they cannot answer the question but will answer it tomorrow, we debase ourselves and the very Parliament to which we were elected. We debase the role of the Oireachtas. We make a nonsense out of democracy. It is no wonder that people ask why we have the Seanad.

I found the way I was treated in the House yesterday deeply insulting. I do not blame the Leader, the Cathaoirleach or anybody else. The Minister of State came here with a prepared speech written by bureaucrats who were then not present in the House when she delivered it. They assumed they knew what would be asked or wrote a speech that was so vague it covered everything and nothing at the same time.

There is no getting away from the fact that the Department is planning to do away with the Irish Aviation Authority regulation of having 12-hour shifts only and move to 24-hour shifts. There is no getting away from the conflict of interest. There is no getting away from any of the questions that were asked. I will be writing to every Member of the Oireachtas and providing transcripts of yesterday's proceedings. I will also write to the Committees on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight of both Houses. If we continue to allow both Houses to be treated in the way they have been treated and if we are going to allow committees to be dismissed by senior civil servants, then we may all pack up our bags, go home and forget about it because we are wasting our time. It is public money that is being spent. It is the public interest we are here to protect. I feel deeply insulted.

I thank everybody who spoke yesterday. Nobody jumped for joy or tore anybody apart. Only one Member of the House did not agree with the need for questions, and that is his right. Ultimately, everybody asked for the answers to the questions that have been asked for a long enough. I will leave it at that. We need to look at ourselves. There needs to be a coming together of politicians in the House. It is so easy to have a crack at government for the hell of it but we are all in this. Members in opposition today could be in government tomorrow and they should remember this. We should all stand together when we see a cause worth standing for.


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