Seanad debates

Friday, 16 December 2022

Election of Leas-Chathaoirleach


11:30 am

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I congratulate the Cathaoirleach on his election. Many nice things have been said about him today and I will not add to them, save to say I agree with all of them. I second this motion enthusiastically. Senator Mark Daly is somebody who has devoted himself to the furtherance of the status and purpose of this House ever since he was elected to it. As Senator Doherty has just said, he has his own agendas, as well as his agenda as Cathaoirleach of this House.Over the past two and a bit years, he served this House loyally, independently, freely and very competently. He is eminently suited to serve both as Cathaoirleach, as he formerly has, and as Leas-Chathaoirleach now. I pay tribute to the manner in which he has seen the opportunities available for reform of this House. As a supporter of much more radical reform, I appreciate whatever small steps we have taken to date and those we will take in the future to ensure that this House plays the role that is envisaged for it and that is possible under our Constitution.

As for the Senator's position and the changeover that has occurred, I have one reflection. I deeply regret the circumstances in which he had to step down as Cathaoirleach for two reasons. First, because I know he took the step he did in the interests of the Parliament generally but, second, it seems to me - and we should reflect on this - that the positions of Chair and Leas-Chathaoirleach of each House are independent positions. It is not in the gift of Government, and nor should it be. Although, on this occasion the rotation is symbolic of what is happening at Government level, the time has come for this House to replicate what Dáil Éireann has done, for which I campaigned very strongly from outside the Oireachtas. The position of Chair, because it is independent, should be chosen by secret ballot among the Members.


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