Friday, 16 December 2022
Election of Leas-Chathaoirleach
I move: "That Senator Mark Daly be elected Leas-Chathaoirleach."
It is my pleasure and honour to propose Senator Mark Daly for the position of Leas-Chathaoirleach. He was first elected to Seanad Éireann in 2007 and, as has already been alluded to, he has been a poll-topper ever since. He is widely known for his huge work ethic and his extensive interest in foreign affairs, the Good Friday Agreement and the constitutional future of the island of Ireland. He is known also for his tremendous work representing Senators and this House not just in Ireland but also in the United States, which he often visits. He has built strong and lasting relationships with many members of the US House of Representatives and other key figures.
The Senator is someone I have got to know very well as a member of Fianna Fáil over many years. He first reached out to me when I was not even elected, and this would not be unusual. It was before I was even a councillor.
I am not sure what he saw. Maybe he saw an opportunity to build a friendship. I recall when I was a local area representative for our party, I got a call from Senator Mark Daly. Obviously, I was thrilled to get the phone call. I was not expecting it and he was the only Senator who reached out through that period. He assisted with many representations I had in the constituency that I was not able to deal with at a local level. It shows the way he approaches the role of Senator, in that not only does he work on behalf of all councillors nationally, but he identifies those who may be trying to secure a council seat in a local election and does his best to assist them. It is a mark of his character that when he came in here, he sought not to pull up the ladder but to extend it down further, to bring others with him and support colleagues right across both Houses. Many colleagues have made speeches about the type of Cathaoirleach he has been but that is the type of Senator he has been to date as well, in that he is always seeking to work with people from all parties and none to build a consensus, work with others, build friendships and to find the possible where others might see the impossible. In his work over the last two and a half years as Cathaoirleach, he has exemplified that type of characteristic.
He has, as I have said previously, really expanded the role of Cathaoirleach. He did his very best to reform the Seanad within the constraints of Standing Orders. He looked to see what was possible without having to go to the electorate as such. Thanks to that work, we have had engagements here with MEPs and we have had the Seanad Public Consultation Committee, where we engaged extensively with issues such as, for example, Senator Ruane's debate around further education. These were things that had not happened in previous Seanaid. It allows all of us to come out of here and say we have done significant reforms of this House in the two and a half years and done so with the leadership and initiative of Senator Mark Daly coming from the Cathaoirleach's office.
I have no doubt he will continue to do that type of work in that type of way as Leas-Chathaoirleach of this House. I look forward to working with him in my role as incoming Leader of the Seanad, together with the new Cathaoirleach, Senator Buttimer, my colleague Senator Doherty in Fine Gael and with Senator Garvey, who is taking over from Senator Pauline O'Reilly as leader of the Green Party Members of the House. I am sure Senator Mark Daly will do a fantastic job as Leas-Chathaoirleach and be a huge support to the Cathaoirleach in his role because it will be a team effort and the period ahead will be a busy one for all of us. I conclude by saying on behalf of the Fianna Fáil group, I am very happy to commend this motion to the House and propose Senator Mark Daly for the position of Leas-Chathaoirleach.
I am very happy to second the motion. Senator Chambers has described a consummate politician but a very generous person. We are all very busy here and sometimes we try to help those ahead of us and behind us. Sometimes you can get caught up in your life but Senator Mark Daly proactively ensures he looks after people and he is right about spotting talent.
While our business is to scrutinise legislation that comes to us from Dáil Éireann or from the Government, long before he was ever Cathaoirleach Senator Mark Daly extended himself to national issues. I refer to his love of the Irish flag and of the Irish language. There is not a town or village in the country that does not have a commemorative garden because of him. It shows the breadth and extent of what a Senator can actually do and a Senator's reach. This particular Senator has a huge grá not only for his community and his place but for his people. On that basis, I second the motion so he can continue his good work and support the Cathaoirleach from the Leas-Chathaoirleach's office.
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.
The Senator would probably have stormed ahead and got a very good vote on that basis. Nonetheless, it is the Members' decision. It is not a decision for the Whips or the Cabinet. It is the decision of Members in Dáil Éireann and it should be the Members' decision in this House. When I say this, I do not in any sense want to take away from what has happened today. I endorse every remark made about the maturity and evolution of our politics that a day such as today could take place and that what is due to happen tomorrow in Dáil Éireann will happen.
Senator Joe O'Reilly's term as Leas-Chathaoirleach has been absolutely perfect in every way. He is, has been and will continue to be a total gentleman. I regret his departure from his position. That is the way the world works, and I cannot say any more about it.
I really do value his friendship, impartiality, decency and gentlemanship throughout all his dealings with us.
Senator Mark Daly's enthusiasm is extremely important. I have no doubt that he and the Cathaoirleach will work together as a team to ensure that this House is run in a friendly, co-operative and decent spirt. It is a great pleasure on my part, and on behalf of several colleagues, to express strong support for the motion. I hope Senator Mark Daly will continue to contribute to making this House a better place.
I will be brief. I am conscious of time. I support the motion and our previous Cathaoirleach, Senator Mark Daly. If he is looking forward to a rest, I am certainly looking forward to a rest. I was looking at my diary this morning. I think I have been on every sub-committee he organised since he came to the House.
I do not think I have missed any of them either. I am really looking forward to the break. I will be leaving today and will not be back until 17 January.
It has always been a pleasure to work with Senator Mark Daly. He is full of enthusiasm. They were not always easy times because there were challenges. When one pushes out the parameters, there will always be challenges and resistance. I greatly admire the Seanad Office staff who worked with him and were - dare I say it - under administrative pressure because they did all the things he pushed for as well as their own work. I recognise that there is always that healthy tension present.
I say "Well done" to Senator Mark Daly. I have several stories to tell the House about him. The former Minister, Mary Hanafin, told me the story of when she was in Washington, a car pulled up and she stepped into it without thinking otherwise. The driver said "Hang on. Is Senator Daly there?" and then pushed Senator Daly into the back and drove off while leaving the Minister standing on the footpath. That is a measure of the interest in him.
I have two other memories I want to share of the Senator in his term as Cathaoirleach. One was the memorable trip to Belfast City Hall, to which Senator Currie referred earlier, which many of us, including Senator Ó Donnghaile, attended. It was about justice and what the British Government might have been considering in terms of an amnesty. It was a very moving time. There was cross-party support for the trip in both Houses. He again received an amazing reception in Belfast City Hall.
I was also in Washington as part of the observation process relating to the mid-term elections. Everywhere I went as part of that process, and during a subsequent visit to Capitol Hill, there was affection for Senator Mark Daly. Everyone talked about him, and I suddenly realised that there was a connection there. There is a style, a cleanness, and professionalism about everything he does. I really wish him well and thank him for his engagement. I hope he will be successful today.
Like Senator Boyhan, I am conscious of the time of day and the time of year. I am sure everybody, including the new officeholders, will want to get out the gap. I spoke earlier about the Cathaoirleach's appointment and congratulated him on that. I wish him well and, likewise, Senator Mark Daly in the context of both his former role and what will no doubt be his upcoming role.
I will take a few minutes to convey my personal thanks and recognition on my own behalf and that of the Sinn Féin group to Senator Joe O'Reilly. I have come to discover, as many others have, that he is a sage. He is, in his heart, an educator. Every day is a school day with him and we in this House benefit from his wisdom and experience. I thank him for the way he has very attentively, respectfully and enthusiastically and in a very committed way undertook his stewardship of the Seanad and, in particular, in his role as Leas-Chathaoirleach. I think I speak for all Senators, certainly those on this side of the Chamber, when I say that we are appreciative and respectful of the contribution he made over the past two and a half years,. I know he is not going anywhere. I hope he will, as I will, give the incumbents plenty to do to keep them on their toes over whatever term await us.
I wanted to put on the record my own personal buíochas leis. Shíl mé a mhór den mhéad a dúirt sé ní ba luaithe faoin nGaeilge. Mhol sé dár gcomh-Ghael, an Cathaoirleach, an Seanadóir Buttimer, go gcuirfeadh sé an teanga chun tosaigh. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil an Cathaoirleach thar a bheith díograiseach faoi sin agus go ndéanfaidh sé sin agus é ina shuíochán nua. Gabhaim buíochas leis an Seanadóir Joe O’Reilly agus guím comhghairdeas leis as téarma den chéad scoth. Guím rath ar cibé Seanadóir a thoghfar sa ról nua.
I again congratulate the Cathaoirleach. I will speak briefly about two gentlemen who I like and will continue to like and admire a lot: Senators Joe O'Reilly and Mark Daly.
Senator Joe O'Reilly and I got to know each other very well over recent years. He is one of the most intelligent and eloquent people I have ever come across, but he is also really good fun. One always ends up smiling and laughing when in a conversation with him because of his kindness and of how witty he is. We will continue to share such conversations and he will go on to do many more great things in a long and distinguished career.
I remember the first full sitting of the Seanad in the Convention Centre Dublin when Senator Mark Daly and I had a chat and discussed climate action. One of the things we both wanted to do was to make sure young people came into this Chamber and, by God, he achieved that during his term. Young people came into this Chamber to speak not only about climate action but also about many other matters that are important to them.The Senator invited the climate committee to use this Chamber and to make sure that young people could have their say when it comes to climate action. It is almost like a snowball effect in that the good thing he did has led to many more good things. Mark's ambition knows no bounds. I know that will continue to be the case when he becomes Leas-Chathaoirleach. I was only remarking to Grace Coyle that the job will probably be no easier now than when he was Cathaoirleach because of the amount he will achieve.
One thing the Senator has put front and centre is women in politics. He has made sure that we have proper representation for women and that we changed the pictures on the walls of Leinster House to ensure that more women are recognised. I thank him sincerely for that. I thank Senators Mark Daly and Joe O'Reilly. I look forward to the next two and a half years.
I begin by paying tribute to Senator Joe O'Reilly. He has been a very good Leas-Chathaoirleach. As previous speakers stated, he is one of the most decent and good people I have known in politics. I regard him as a friend. As well as always bringing care, kindness and tolerance to his role as Leas-Chathaoirleach and to any part of his engagement with colleagues across the House, he has a dry wit and a wisdom that are very useful and positive and that have been available to everybody. Like others, I have had the opportunity of travelling with Joe and serving with him on the Council of Europe. I know he also played a very distinguished role in that regard and as vice chair of political groups that I would have found it very hard to be vice chair of in the difficult spaces of the Council of Europe. I know he will continue to exhibit that very personal care and also that international outlook. He has a goal for good in the world, and he will find other ways to express it. I am looking forward to having him back on the benches with us and to being able to work with him to that effect.
I am very happy to be one of those nominating and supporting Senator Mark Daly as candidate for Leas-Chathaoirleach. It was almost in my first week in the Seanad that Mark somehow had me in his office explaining the Standing Orders to me, outlining how we write them ourselves and that it is important to remember that we make our own rules in the Seanad. That was important. When we arrive into a space, the first things we often hear are what we cannot do, what we should not do and what we ought not to do, but Mark was full of all of the things that we can do and that we can do more. He really brought that in as a Senator but when he got the opportunity to be Cathaoirleach, he took it and ran with it. As has been said, he put so many pieces in play and followed so many of those threads through, from the paintings that we now see on the walls, to the special settings we have had, to the engagement with the international community that he has championed, through to all of these other aspects. Crucially, something that will be a really important legacy is the bringing back of the scrutiny of statutory instruments, particularly EU legislative instruments.
All of that will be in play and now, if he is elected Leas-Chathaoirleach, as I believe he is likely to be, he will be able to support the exciting new projects that have been laid out by our new Cathaoirleach, Senator Buttimer, and the very important thematic considerations and priorities he has set out. I know Mark will be able in supporting those and will also be diligent in following through each of the threads and each of the balls he put in motion during his own time in the office. Again, I look forward to working with the Cathaoirleach and, if Senator Mark Daly is appointed to the role, the new Leas-Chathaoirleach in the next two and a half years.
Like others, I will be brief because I am conscious this has been a much longer session than we all expected. I spoke earlier about the incoming and outgoing Cathaoirligh and the Leaders of the House. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to Senator Joe O'Reilly as our outgoing Leas-Chathaoirleach. Joe always approached the job with openness and humour. In doing the very unglamorous job of guiding through important legislation - whether in the depths of the night or the middle of a rainy afternoon - Joe has always been there. It is important to acknowledge the work and commitment that Joe has shown in that role over the past two and a half years. I am delighted that he is not going anywhere and that this is not his obituary, as many people often think when it comes to these changeover occasions. I look forward to working with Joe for the next two and a half years.
I sincerely congratulate Senator Buttimer on his election as Cathaoirleach. A lot of words have been spoken, but Senators Doherty and Wilson spoke volumes about Jerry when proposing him. I think every single person in this Chamber would acknowledge that. Jerry has shown a lot of emotion today. I am one person who thinks that emotion is good. Men are not great at showing emotion at times and are sometimes ashamed of doing so. I really thought Jerry showed a beautiful sense of emotion earlier. It is a very proud day for him and his family. He will have my full co-operation throughout his term as Cathaoirleach. Like others, I trust him 100% in what he will do as Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann.
I wish to comment on the wonderful work done by Senator Mark Daly over his period here. He has been absolutely outstanding. We had the referendum on the future of Seanad Éireann and, thankfully, the general public voted to keep it. It is very important that reform and new things happen. Today, after the past two and half years, the people of Ireland are speaking far more favourably about Seanad Eireann and the role it is playing. That is down to Mark's leadership. I wish him well.
Of course, it is a double act. In all of these things, there are Roscommon people involved. My neighbour down the road is Grace Coyle, and my family have been friendly with her family for years. Grace has been very much part of Mark’s campaign, and Mark will be the first to admit that. I wish Grace and her family well and I wish Mark and his family well.
I have to keep the Roscommon theme going because Senator Joe O'Reilly played a fantastic part here as Leas-Chathaoirleach. Of course, Joe's wife Mary comes from Roscommon and is another friend of mine. Joe did a fantastic job throughout, and I really appreciate it. He gave me a bit of leniency now and again because of the old connection, which I also appreciate.
I pay tribute to our own team and to Senators Chambers, Gallagher and Senator Pauline O'Reilly. It is always a pleasure to work with Pauline. I thank her so much. Senator Kyne was also very easy to work with from my perspective and, of course, I spoke yesterday about Senator Doherty and the great job she did. I wish the incoming people the best of luck. I wish everybody a good Christmas. We are all rooting for Senator Moynihan over the next couple of weeks and wish her the very best of luck.
It is great that the outgoing Cathaoirleach will to become Leas-Chathaoirleach if everything goes according to plan. It is great to have someone like that as a wingman, or wing person.
Senator Joe O'Reilly has made my life so much easier in the Chamber. He would say to me, “Don't sweat it, Róisín, it will be okay.” Even though he loves talking, he was always brief in the Chamber and in the Chair, which is a great skill to have for someone who loves to tell a story. I really admire that in him because I tend to talk a lot myself. Brevity can be vital in roles like chairing meetings of the Seanad because we all love the sound of our own voices. I wish him the very best of luck, and I look forward to having more chats with him. I thank him for all always asking after my father, Flan Garvey, because I know he made lots of trips to the North and they worked together on lots of the North-South stuff that my father campaigned on and pioneered for 30 or 40 years.
I wish the best of luck to Senator Mark Daly in his new role as Leas-Chathaoirleach. I have no doubt it will not put a stop to his gallop. I sincerely thank Senator Joe O'Reilly for all the great work.
I support the proposal that Senator Mark Daly become Leas-Chathaoirleach. I wish him well in that role. I acknowledge my colleague, neighbour and friend, Senator Joe O'Reilly, who has served in the position of Leas-Chathaoirleach for the past two and a half years. To say the Senator is a gentleman is an understatement. We can say nothing but good things about Joe because he is a friend to us all. I wish him well and look forward to continuing to work with him over the next couple of years.
I pay tribute to the outgoing Leas-Chathaoirleach, Senator Joe O'Reilly, a true friend. As always, he is on the same floor and he has given so much guidance to someone who was so new.Senator Joe O'Reilly has both expertise and wisdom. It is a real honour to know him and I cherish the fact that we have become good friends. As Senator Murphy has said, Senator O'Reilly has very close ties to Roscommon, particularly to the Tully family. When he was elected to the role of Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Seanad, it meant much to his family and to all of those who know and respect him. He brought a lot of wit and wisdom to the office, as was said earlier. I have learned much from his eloquence in the Chair and from the way that he engages with people.
I wish our soon-to-be brand-new Leas-Chathaoirleach, Senator Mark Daly, well in his new role. He has done a great deal for women in this House, even just from the perspective of the approximately 200 photographs in the Women in the Seanad exhibition. It is incredible to think that in the space of a couple of years, we have been able to acknowledge the role of women, including through the portrait acknowledging the role of women that sat behind the Leader at the start of the Order of Business. That portrait is now going to have pride of place elsewhere. He has also ensured that portraits of all of the women who served as Senators are on public display. He has done so much on that issue and on the Seanad 100 commemorations. I look forward to working with him as Leas-Chathaoirleach.
I spoke about Senators Mark Daly and Joe O’Reilly earlier today but I do not want to let the opportunity pass to thank them both once again. I am delighted that Senator Daly has put his name forward for the role of Leas-Chathaoirleach. In a way, he is easing us out of having him as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad.
As I have the pleasure of occupying the office next door to that of my great friend, Senator Joe O'Reilly, I get to hear his booming voice on the phone to Cavan about 12 times a day. When we come in to this Chamber, Senator O'Reilly brings a gravitas to the Chair while at the same time making everybody feel at home. The comments of others on his eloquence and wit are true. I thank my dear Cavan friend for his presence in the Chamber and for his guidance, not just in the Chair but in general.
I congratulate Senator Buttimer on his election to the role of Cathaoirleach. I have confidence that he will be fair and independent and I wish him well in the role.
I want to take a moment to recognise my friend and colleague Senator Joe O'Reilly. He wore the office of Leas-Chathaoirleach really lightly and performed in an extremely good fashion. It is a testament to him that he has so much support across the Chamber. I also want to join Senator Higgins in recognising the huge work he has done over approximately 15 years at the Council of Europe. He is recognised by people from across all parties and has managed to build friendships across all political groups at the council. He has done sterling work there and it is important to recognise that. With his humour, friendliness and good nature, he has done huge credit to the office of Leas-Chathaoirleach and I wish him well in the coming years.
Something just occurred to me there. All of us in this House spend a lot of our time attending funerals. They are ritualistic and very much a part of life, particularly in rural society. I am often struck at funerals by the various eulogies, particularly family eulogies and am inclined to think how good it would be if the deceased person was there to hear them. I have had the unusual experience today of having that happen. I will not suffer that difficulty when the eulogies are being given at my funeral; I will have heard them in advance. It is a nice thing to have heard them in life.
That is not to suggest for one moment that today is a political funeral for me, lest anyone thinks that. It is not and I would be very anxious that my good friends, the Cathaoirleach, Senator Buttimer, and the other Members from the Labour Panel would be aware of that.
I want to do two things. First, I want to congratulate the well-deserved incoming Leas-Chathaoirleach and then I want to say a couple of word about my time in the role and thank some people. I will do all of that as succinctly as I can.
I said some things earlier today about Senator Mark Daly and the energy, courtesy and all of the great qualities he brought to the role of Cathaoirleach. He was an excellent Cathaoirleach and he will be an outstanding Leas-Chathaoirleach. I missed one dimension earlier but I was conscious that I would be speaking again later. I mentioned that he did huge work with young people, in relation to Europe and on the Seanad 100 celebrations but he also did huge work on the national question and the constitutional issue. He invited people from diverse traditions to speak in this Chamber and that was very good. Senators Buttimer and Mark Daly, as Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach, respectively, will make a very formidable team and will achieve an awful lot together. I have no doubt that Senator Daly will make a great Leas-Chathaoirleach and I am very happy to endorse him. The only apprehension I have in endorsing him is that he might do the job better than I did and that would be a pity. If he is just a little bit less good than me, that will do. Hopefully, he will be a huge success. Indeed, I have no doubt that he will be. He will have institutional knowledge and wisdom to share with the Cathaoirleach, who will bring his own flair and vision to the role. As a team they will be excellent and will do a lot for the image of this House.
I now want to say some words about my time as Leas-Chathaoirleach. Apart from the light-hearted comment about funerals, I want to say that I deeply appreciate all of the sentiments expressed by my colleagues. I know they were heartfelt and they were lovely. I appreciate those sentiments and what is most encouraging about them is they identify things that I set out to do. I wanted to be fair, inclusive, good at listening and at bringing people with me. I also wanted to give space to everyone to talk, to reflect their views, to be part of the debate and to be valued and from what I have heard, I have achieved some of that. That is what I set out to do and the affirmation that is coming back at me now is wonderful. If I had been asked on the first day what I would like to achieve, those would have been the things on my list so I am particularly gratified in that regard.
Senators of a certain age will remember the song, "Thank You Very Much, Mr. Eastwood", and what I am about to say will be a little like that. I want to thank my colleagues all around the House, not only for their lovely words today but for their co-operation and work while I was Leas-Chathaoirleach. Everybody in this House, without exception, understands the privilege of being here and the gravity of what we do. Everyone understands that it is a huge responsibility and a great honour and privilege to be here and that public service is the noblest and highest calling. That is well understood and all Senators responded very well to that. I thank them for the way they co-operated with me when I was in the role.
Today is a wonderful demonstration of our vibrant democracy, 100 years after the founding of the State. We have a healthy democracy, as is very clear in both Houses of the Oireachtas. One of the great hallmarks and pearls of our democracy is that we have an excellent Civil Service. We have a Civil Service that survives all Administrations, responds and adapts to the hues, policies and orientation of all Administrations and which is, without fear of favour, on the side of the people. They are servants of the people and in this House we have an exemplary group of people working with us. That is something that I want to acknowledge. Mr. Martin Groves, Ms Bridget Doody and every one of their team are lovely people, individually but not only is it a joy to know them as people, they are also hugely committed and very professional. They are wonderful civil servants and we should be proud of them. This is not something to take for granted. Several colleagues made very kind references to my involvement with the Council of Europe. Senator Gavan is also involved with the Council and is, I must say in passing, a rising star out there.Senator Gavan would know this. We spend a lot of time talking about corruption, corrupt public servants and administrations and how to go about eliminating and fighting corruption. Thank God, we have the opposite here.
I acknowledge the wonderful staff of this House - Martin Groves, Bridget Doody and all the others. I acknowledge the wonderful ushers who are also excellent. I find them extremely courteous at all times. I acknowledge Senator Mark Daly’s personal secretary, Grace Coyle, who is always very pleasant to me and with whom I worked on a number of occasions. I used to meet her when I visited Senator Daly’s office. I also acknowledge the two people who work with me. The first is Mary O’Connor, a proud Kerrywoman who is known well to many in this House. Mary is a wonderful person with a keen political brain and a great literary sense. If I disappear for a while, she writes letters for me and needs no prompting. I also acknowledge Mary Keogan in my Cavan office who invented empathy and is wonderful with people. She has queues of people coming into her all the time because she is such a lovely lady and does so well.
I congratulate my constituency colleague, Senator Gallagher, a good personal friend of mine, on becoming Chief Whip today. It is a great honour for him. He is not here but maybe somebody would convey the message to him. I thank Senator Kyne who did a wonderful job as Chief Whip. It was great to work with the former Leader, Senator Doherty, in my role as Leas-Chathaoirleach, and with the former Deputy Leader, Senator Chambers, whom I congratulate on becoming Leader.
I do not think I missed anybody but I also thank any officials or others with whom we came in contact.
I enjoyed the term as Leas-Chathaoirleach. It is a great privilege to be in this House, no matter what the role. It also a great honour and responsibility, which we should not take for granted. If we chose to stop doing this job, many excellent people outside the gate would be very happy to take our places. We should not grouse. I enjoyed the years in the job. Senator Mark Daly will be an exemplary Leas-Chathaoirleach. I am a little scared that he might even be better than I was. I wish him well, as I do the Cathaoirleach.
Like everyone else, I commend our colleague, Senator Joe O’Reilly, on his fantastic two years as Leas-Chathaoirleach. He was very fair in his role. His office is across the corridor from mine, so I regularly engage with him and Mary O’Connor. He, too, has huge literary knowledge and a phenomenal command of the English language, in terms of his speaking ability and construction of sentences.
An-mhaith, a chara, an-mhaith. He is pleasure to know. I have known Senator Joe O’Reilly since I was in Young Fine Gael a long time ago. I remember when he ran for the European elections in, I believe, 2009. We had great fun at the time. His work in the Council of Europe is very impressive.
As regards Senator Daly, Mark is Mark. He pushed the boundaries beyond everyone’s expectations, as Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann. He did a wonderful job. As I said to him privately and in the House yesterday, I do not believe Seanad 100 could have been any better. No stone was left unturned and there was nothing else that could have been done. I have no doubt that in his role as Leas-Chathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, he will be different, will bring his style to it and will push the boundaries. We will encourage and support him in that.
I acknowledge my good friend, Senator Kyne, who is stepping down as Government Chief Whip. He does his business in a quiet but determined way and he gets results. His experience in Cabinet stood to him in his role as Chief Whip. I wish Senator Gallagher all the best in assuming the role of Chief Whip. We will do everything we can to support him.
I also congratulate Senator Chambers who will be a wonderful Leader of the Seanad. She has a hard act to follow in Senator Doherty, who also brought her Cabinet experience to her role as Leader of the Seanad. That experience was worth a lot. Senator Chambers will be her own woman and will probably do things differently as well. We will be looking for many debates from the new Leader. Her job is to get as many Government Ministers into the House as possible. I wish her well.
I do solemnly declare that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my knowledge and ability execute the office of Leas-Chathaoirleach of Seanad 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 Seanad Éireann.
I thank colleagues. I know the time is moving on and I hope we will get home safely in these weather conditions. I pay tribute to Senator Joe O’Reilly, the former Leas-Chathaoirleach. He is our man in Europe and has been for many years. He is on the Council of Europe. It is in that role, as our man in Europe, that I asked him, on behalf of the Seanad, to take up the role of engaging with Members of the European Parliament. This has been very beneficial in ensuring connectivity between our MEPs and Senators. They are now taking up a role on the issue of climate action and climate justice, which is one on which the former Senator and President Mary Robinson challenged the Seanad to be a voice. He also did that when he chaired the session of Seanad na nÓg, which was hugely successful in debating the issues of the day that are important to young people. It opened up the doors of the Seanad to make sure the voices of all people are heard in this Chamber. I pay a huge tribute to Senator Joe O'Reilly. I spoke already about Senators Doherty, Chambers, Pauline O’Reilly and Garvey, and the leadership team throughout the House. I also pay tribute to Senators Higgins, Moynihan, Boyhan and Ó Donnghaile. The leadership across the seven groups has been extraordinary. The Whips have done a great job of working together. I pay tribute to the outgoing Whip, Senator Kyne, and the incoming Whip, Senator Gallagher. All the Whips of the groups have worked together. This has been a great Seanad to work for.
A little like Senator Joe O’Reilly, hearing people say nice things about me, I must say it is nice to hear them while I am still around. We looked back over the last 100 years and we are looking forward to the next 100 years. The only ambition is that everybody achieve his or her full potential. All we want in this country is that people can be who they want to be, regardless of where they come from.
We referred to the issue of women in the Seanad and the art in the House. It is great that we have more women Members proportionately than are in the Dáil. We now have 223 pieces of art representing women. Today, we will have another one. As Senators leave by the staircase today, they will see on their left-hand side a correction of a historic wrong. For many years, nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell was airbrushed out of Irish history, as were many other groups in our country. That has been corrected now because she is in the foreground of the historic painting of the surrender in Moore Street, whereas Pádraig Pearse is in the background. We are rectifying that wrong with this very powerful image of nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell and the surrender on Moore Street.Finally, I compliment the Cathaoirleach on his work over the last 20 years or so in public service in all its guises. I pledge my support for him in his role. I greatly appreciate the programme he outlined in terms of what he hopes to do in his role as Cathaoirleach. I offer him my full support, as does everybody in this House, with regard to ensuring we continue to build on making sure this Seanad works for all the people of this island. Go raibh maith agaibh go léir; safe home.
I look forward to working in tandem with the Leas-Chathaoirleach in getting further elevation for the Seanad in 2023. Tá mé beagnach críochnaithe; tá cúpla focal orm. On Members' behalf, I thank Ms Áine McMahon from the communications unit in Leinster House for making today possible. Gabhaim buíochas léi. I thank John, the photographer. I thank the Seanad-----
I thank the Seanad Office team for their tremendous work during the course of this year and in particular this week. On Senator Keogan's and all our behalf, I thank Ms Aisling Harte, who has been an ever-present member in the Cathaoirleach's office during my time in this House. I look forward to working with Aisling. I have known her nearly since I was a little boy because I was here so often before I became a Member. I thank everybody in our parliamentary community from the ushers here today to the people in front of us who record and as we all say, make us look and sound better than we are. I thank Jeremy and Richard who do the voting every time we have a vote; míle buíochas.
I have one comment for everybody in the Seanad Office, Ilinca Popa and Eden McLaughlin, who are in the Chamber, Martin Groves and Bridget Doody and all the staff and Members themselves - get a break over Christmas. Enjoy the rest. Take time out for yourselves to recharge your batteries. Come back in the new year and we will have a new start in 2023. Beannachtaí na Nollag oraibh go léir. I ask the Leader to propose the adjournment of the House.