Seanad debates

Friday, 19 July 2013

11:55 am

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders—

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames be discharged from the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs and Senator Catherine Noone be appointed in substitution for her;

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames be discharged from the Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection and that Senator Imelda Henry be appointed in substitution for her;

Senator Paul Bradford be discharged from the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality and that Senator Tony Mulcahy be appointed in substitution for him;

Senator Catherine Noone be discharged from the Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht and that Senator Pat O’Neill be appointed in substitution for her;

Senator Paul Bradford be discharged from the Seanad Committee on Procedure and Privileges and that Senator Deirdre Clune be appointed in substitution for him; and

Senator James Heffernan be discharged from the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs and that Senator John Kelly be appointed in substitution for him.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I call Senator Kelly who wishes to raise a point of order

Photo of John KellyJohn Kelly (Labour)
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It was brought to my attention that I have been nominated to the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs. Whereas I am honoured at being nominated for membership of the joint committee, I was not aware of the circumstances as to how the vacancy arose. On that basis I am not prepared to take up that position.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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That is not a point of order.

Photo of John KellyJohn Kelly (Labour)
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I ask the Leader to have me formally removed from the committee. I fundamentally disagree with the bully boy tactics of removing Oireachtas Members from committees.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Senator is out of order.

Photo of John KellyJohn Kelly (Labour)
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I disagree that Deputies and Senators are expected to park their conscience at the front door of Leinster House and act like robots for five years.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Well said.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Kelly, resume your seat. Is the motion agreed?

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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On a point of order-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I will allow the Senator to make a point of order.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Can you force a Member onto a committee? Apparently one can break all the rules and force them off a committee. A motion that nominates a Member against his or her will cannot be moved.

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail)
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I wish to raise a point of order.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I call Senator Walsh.

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail)
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Would any other Members like to emulate the principled position that Senator Kelly has taken? I think this is the opportunity to do so.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Will Senator Walsh resume his seat?

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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I request a direction from the Chair on motion No. 1. On the basis of Senator Kelly's contribution in which he stated he was now unwilling to take up his nomination to replace Senator James Heffernan on the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, how can we pass it when it refers to Senator Kelly in the body of that motion? Would it not be better for the Leader to withdraw it until a replacement is found?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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This motion sets aside Standing Orders. Senator Kelly can take up his issue with the leader of his group, Senator Bacik, and resign from the committee.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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The shape of things to come.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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I respect the rulings of the Chair, but it would be outside of Standing Orders on the basis of passing a motion. When a Member does not want to go on the committee, it does not make sense. The Member has made a statement. Can we withdraw motion No. 1 and return to it on Monday?

Photo of Denis LandyDenis Landy (Labour)
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I would like a direct answer to my direct question. Can this matter be deferred until-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The matter is-----

Photo of Denis LandyDenis Landy (Labour)
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It is amazing that the Chair can interpret and respond to something I have not said. May I please ask a question?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Yes, Senator.

Photo of Denis LandyDenis Landy (Labour)
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Senator Kelly has publicly indicated on the floor of the House that he is not prepared to take up the position on the committee. Can we defer No. 1 until Monday and deal with it in a proper fashion?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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We cannot defer it. The motion is before the House.

Photo of Denis LandyDenis Landy (Labour)
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A Chathaoirligh, may I finish, please? I would like to be able to listen to the Chair.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The motion is before the House. I cannot withdraw or defer the motion.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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A committee of this House is charged with the responsibility of appointing people to committees and discharging them from committees. The courtesy was not given to that committee to deal with its business.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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This motion is setting aside Standing Orders.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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Setting aside Standing Orders is to side-step my party. It is a disgrace.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I have to deal with what is put before me. I am putting the question. Senator Mullen on a point of order.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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From time to time it falls to the Chair to make Cathaoirleach's rulings in circumstances where there is an absence of clarity in the Standing Orders. I think there is a potential legal difficulty here perhaps of constitutional significance. I was certainly unaware when I raised the concerns this morning that the proposals being made were not based on consultation with all of the people involved. The Cathaoirleach would be within his rights, given the dubium that has arisen, to make a temporary Chairman's ruling that this motion not be taken, notwithstanding that things have got to the point they have come to this morning. It would be more seemly to do that.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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That is outside my remit as Chairman. I cannot set aside or defer a motion. This motion sets aside Standing Orders. I must deal with the motion before the House.

Photo of Terry LeydenTerry Leyden (Fianna Fail)
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On a point of order, I think the Cathaoirleach would be well advised to take legal opinion now.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The House sets its own rules.

Photo of Terry LeydenTerry Leyden (Fianna Fail)
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I commend Senator Kelly for his outstanding contribution to the House by the stand he has taken. As a fellow Roscommon man, I am very pleased with the position he has taken.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Will Senator Leyden resume his seat? I call Senator Norris on a point of order.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I pointed out at the beginning that it seems extraordinary and ultra vires to nominate somebody without his or her consent, bypassing the committee, and the Cathaoirleach said this sets aside Standing Orders. This is nothing short of tyranny. I think this is the shape of things to come under this Government if we abolish Seanad Éireann. It is unparalleled. I am here more than a quarter of a century and I have never witnessed anything like it in my entire life.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Resume your seat, Senator.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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It is a violation of democracy. A man can be forced onto a committee when he does not want it. He wants to withdraw from it. Where are we going with this?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Please resume your seat. Does Senator Walsh wish to raise a point of order?

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail)
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It is a point of order in light of the unprecedented announcement which nullifies the motion before the House.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It does not nullify it.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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It does, he is correct.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator, please.

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail)
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Can I ask the Chair to hear independently a point of order? I will be very brief. I have one sentence. If the Chair stopped interrupting it would be so helpful to us to get through the business of the House, if the Chair does not mind me saying so. My point of order is because the motion is now nullified by the withdrawal of one of the individuals mentioned in the motion, I am proposing an amendment that it be referred to the appropriate committee for consideration. That is an amendment to the motion - that it be referred.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It is too late to put an amendment. It does not nullify it.

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail)
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I will table an amendment if there is a seconder.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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You cannot put an amendment at this stage.

Photo of Paul BradfordPaul Bradford (Fine Gael)
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Be it a point of order or an observation, I want to put on the record of the House that it is historically unprecedented, not just in this House but perhaps in the entire Oireachtas, that we apparently are set to vote onto a committee a person who does not wish to be a part of that committee. I ask that in a moment of reflection and calmness, we do what is the only right thing to do and withdraw the motion and reflect and make a decision on Monday. If this House has any respect not just for its traditions but for its possible future, it must reflect and withdraw this motion and consider it on Monday.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Only the Leader can withdraw the motion.

Photo of Paul BradfordPaul Bradford (Fine Gael)
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I appeal to the Leader to do so.

Photo of Paschal MooneyPaschal Mooney (Fianna Fail)
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I have never come across this situation. I appreciate the dilemma the Cathaoirleach is facing but if we are being requested to pass a motion which is worded in the manner in which it is worded, and now that those words are inaccurate and no longer relevant, surely we cannot as a House pass this motion. We are legally constrained.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Leader has moved a motion and it is before the House.

Photo of Paschal MooneyPaschal Mooney (Fianna Fail)
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The motion he put before the House is now inaccurate. It is naming a person who has stated publicly that he does not wish to be part of the motion.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The House can take that into consideration.

12:05 pm

Photo of Labhrás Ó MurchúLabhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fail)
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It would seem to me that the Cathaoirleach has been placed in a difficult and unprecedented position. Is it within his remit to adjourn the House for 15 minutes to give us an opportunity to take advice on this matter? The Whips might want to have a discussion on it as well. I do not think it will help if we just go forward with this. An adjournment of 15 minutes might help everyone.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I am not adjourning the House.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I have a point of order.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I call Senator O'Sullivan.

Photo of Ned O'SullivanNed O'Sullivan (Fianna Fail)
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My point of order has been made by Senator Ó Murchú. I was also going to ask whether it would be in order for the Attorney General to be called here to deal with the Leader and the Cathaoirleach.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It is not in order. I call the Leas-Chathaoirleach, Senator O'Donovan.

Photo of Denis O'DonovanDenis O'Donovan (Fianna Fail)
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I have a brief point of order. I am usually brief anyway. I have been in this House for approximately 14 years. This is the first time I have stood up to raise a point of order. I am deeply concerned that what has been proposed is an abuse. I want to get the advice of the Leader and the Cathaoirleach. This Standing Order is usually used in emergency situations, such as severe economic difficulties or war. Is it being used now to usurp existing committees which are being passed over? I ask for time to be provided for calm reflection. I have been told to consult senior counsel with a view to taking this matter a step further.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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On a point of order, I want to say-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Have you a point of order, Senator?

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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It is a point of order. I want to back the Leas-Chathaoirleach up. As Leader of the Opposition, I am formally asking the Cathaoirleach to consider adjourning the House. We are going to seek legal advice on this immediately. I ask that the House be adjourned until 2 p.m. to facilitate that. The Cathaoirleach has heard from Members. I am asking formally that the House be adjourned. I am putting it on the record of the House that we are going to seek legal advice on this matter.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Does Senator Norris have a point of order?

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I would like to make a simple and quick point. I think it is a point of order.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Can we have silence in the House, please?

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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If, as this motion purports, Standing Orders are suspended completely, I do not see any reason the Cathaoirleach could not take an amendment because there are no Standing Orders governing it.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Marie Louise O'DonnellMarie Louise O'Donnell (Independent)
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We are not able to hear the Senator.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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I was saying to the Cathaoirleach that this motion purports to suspend Standing Orders. As we are in a kind of vacuum with no rules and regulations, the Cathaoirleach cannot rely on Standing Orders to rule out an amendment. I would have thought we can table an amendment because Standing Orders have been lifted.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Standing Orders are being set aside in relation to this motion only.

Photo of David NorrisDavid Norris (Independent)
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Yes, but an amendment to the motion would relate to the motion.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Leader of the House has moved a motion.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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Tá brón orm, a Chathaoirligh. Gabh mo leithscéal. I asked you a specific question. I have formally proposed that the House be suspended until 2 p.m. Will you do that?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I cannot do that.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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Why not? You can adjourn the House.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I can only do that in the event of disorder. There is no disorder in the House at the moment.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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On that basis-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I have a proposal from the Leader.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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No, sorry-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Is the motion agreed to?

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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I will not agree to that.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I am putting the question.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Will those in favour say "Tá"?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Will those against say "Níl"?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I think the question is carried.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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Excuse me, a Chathaoirligh. The question is not carried. You cannot move a division at this stage.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Vótáil.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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You are bang out of order there, a Chathaoirligh.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I am not out of order.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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You are bang out of order. Senator Kelly wishes to speak.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Vótáil.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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You cannot move to a voting situation now.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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I have no choice.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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A Chathaoirligh, the Fianna Fáil Party in this House will withdraw from this House and from all the proceedings of this House today because of the outrageous lack of democracy that has been shown here this morning. My party is leaving this House now and will take no further part in the proceedings of this House. It is a disgrace.

Photo of John GilroyJohn Gilroy (Labour)
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Good luck with your opportunism on that one.

Photo of John KellyJohn Kelly (Labour)
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I was prepared to offer a compromise.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The vote is being taken, Senator.

Question put.

The Seanad divided by electronic means.

12:15 pm

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
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A Chathaoirligh, faoi Ordú 62(3)(b), ba mhaith liom go dtógfaí an vóta ar bhealach eile seachas ar bhealach leictreonach. Iarraim vóta siúil.

Question put:

The Seanad divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 11.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Aideen Hayden; Níl, Senators Rónán Mullen and David Norris.

Question declared carried.