Friday, 15 December 2006
Business of Seanad
As this is the last sitting day of this session, I take the opportunity to wish Members a happy Christmas. I thank them all for their co-operation, especially the Leas-Chathaoirleach, Acting Chairmen, Leader and party leaders. I also thank Deirdre Lane and Jody Blake and other members of staff for their assistance.
I too wish to extend my good wishes to Members, particularly the Cathaoirleach, who is our guide and mentor. I also thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach and Acting Chairmen, although they do not take the seat with the same aplomb as the Cathaoirleach. I thank Deirdre, Jody and the other staff, who do sterling work. I give my best wishes also to the party leaders, Senators Brian Hayes, Ryan and O'Toole. I also thank the Acting Leader, Senator Dardis, and the Whips, Senators Moylan and Glynn and those of the other parties for their co-operation.
I thank the Ministers and their private secretaries, with whom we communicate on a daily basis. We are fortunate that a good relationship exists between my office and those of the various Ministers. I also thank the spokespersons who speak on Bills from the different Departments. They always respond well in making their contribution on the relevant legislation.
Where would we be without Jimmy Walsh of The Irish Times? He is faithful and true. I thank RTE when it reports on our proceedings at whatever time. It gives us a lick from time to time. I thank the Captain of the Guard and the ushers who observe great decorum and keep order in the House. I wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas but most of all time with their families. I am looking forward to the Christmas. It is a time to recollect, be free from duties and be in the bosom of one's family. We will see how the next year will go.
On behalf of my colleagues on this side of the House, I wish the Cathaoirleach and his staff a very happy and holy Christmas. A select group had the privilege of being at the Cathaoirleach's last dinner this week. At the dinner I was thinking what was the best scene in the liturgical calendar which suited the feast. Would it be the Last Supper, considering that the Cathaoirleach is not standing for office again? In the end I thought the Nativity is the best biblical scene, as we were all coming to give him homage.
No, Senator Moylan brought a pear for everyone.
I thank the Clerk of the Seanad, the Assistant Clerk and the Seanad Office for ensuring the House is run efficiently and smoothly. I wish a happy and holy Christmas to all Members, particularly to the Leader, other leaders and spokespersons. I thank the parliamentary reporters who do a fantastic job in ensuring our mutterings are on the Internet as soon as possible. I thank the ushers. I particularly thank The Irish Times correspondent, Mr. Jimmy Walsh. I thank Mr. Eamonn McCormack from the Leader's office who does a terrific job in ensuring the smooth and efficient workings of the House.
My colleague, Senator O'Toole, who is not our leader but is primus inter pares asked me to fulfil this function on behalf of the Independent Group as he is detained at a funeral in the west. I am very happy to do so. I am sad to realise that the Cathaoirleach will not be in the Chair again. He has graced it in a very unique fashion. Several days ago I met a former holder of that office, Tras Honan, who was known for her style, upon which she remarked herself sometimes. The Cathaoirleach has his own unique style which every Member accepts.
I pass on the compliments of our group to Deirdre, Jody and the rest of the officials in the Seanad Office. I pass on our compliments to the Leader, who unquestionably has her own unique style. I hope it continues to grace political life for many years to come. I thank Eamonn McCormack. I thank the parliamentary reporters who do an extraordinarily good job. I sometimes read not just "the blacks", as they are termed, but the printed record and they do a very good job in tidying up Members' grammar, including my own, which saves us from some embarrassment.
With the Captain of the Guard and the ushers, we are exceptionally lucky. Every visitor or delegation with which I am involved comments upon their courtesy and graciousness. Over the year, I have had numerous occasions to experience that. I am grateful for it. If I have left anyone out, it is simply down to age and indeterminacy.
I have many senior moments. I feel we are a happy but sometimes discordant family. I take great pleasure in wishing my fellow members of this community a very happy Christmas and prosperous new year. I hope we will all be back here healthy, vigorous, active and combative in the new year.
I join with others in wishingthe Cathaoirleach, the Leas-Chathaoirleach, Members and those associated with the House a happy and peaceful Christmas and a good new year. I thank the Cathaoirleach for his patience and humour in conducting proceedings. I wish him well in everything he decides to do in the future. I thank the Leas-Chathaoirleach and the Acting Chairmen for the manner in which they have chaired. I acknowledge the work and co-operation of the Senators Brian Hayes, O'Toole and Ryan. I pay tribute to the Leader for her work. In my experience she is one of the hardest working Leaders the House has had. One must also acknowledge that Eamonn McCormack keeps the whole show on the road. It is not appropriate to name officials but in this particular case the Cathaoirleach will allow an exception. He does a remarkable job and is always patient and good-humoured.
I thank the Superintendent, the Captain of the Guard and their staff for the courtesy they show us at all times. I acknowledge the work Jimmy Walsh does in reporting the proceedings of the House in The Irish Times. Whatever we might say about things that we think should be in or left out, one thing we cannot say is that he is inaccurate. That is a tribute to a journalist.
He is always accurate in what he reports.
It is when one is in Opposition that one finds out how hard the Clerk, the Assistant Clerk and the Seanad Office have to work in the preparation of proceedings, for example, amendments to Bills. Some of us, including myself, are not always the best in bringing the amendments to them early in the evening. It is extraordinary that they can get the amendments out and mistakes are not made. Given the extra onus on them, with the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, the whole question of resources and staffing needs to be examined.
Finally, I will mention the Editor of Debates and those who report what we say so accurately. As Senator Norris said, they improve the grammar and the syntax.
I have received notice from Senator Henry that she proposes to raise the following matter on the Adjournment:
The need for the Minister for Foreign Affairs to restore Irish Aid funding to the maternity services in Bethlehem immediately.
I have also received notice from Senator Bradford of the following matter:
The need for the Minister for Health and Children to give her views on the decision by BUPA to withdraw from the Irish health insurance market.
I regard the matters raised by the Senators as suitable for discussion on the Adjournment and they will be taken at the conclusion of business.