Seanad debates

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Gnó an tSeanaid - Business of Seanad


1:00 pm

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)
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Cuirim fíorfháilte roimh gach éinne. Ar an gcéad dul síos, over our recess, Members will have heard that a former colleague and friend of many of us in this House went to his eternal reward. I am speaking, of course, of the late Senator, Member of the European Parliament and member of the Labour Party, Senator Flor O'Mahony, who passed away on 28 July. He was born in Dalkey in 1946, attended Presentation College, Glasthule, and later studied English literature and economics at University College Dublin. It was during his time in UCD that he met his future wife, Judy, while studying in his final year.

As Members will know, the late Senator O'Mahony was a long-standing supporter of the Labour Party, having joined while in UCD. He was a committed public servant from an early age, serving the people of Dún Laoghaire while still a student, having been elected to Dún Laoghaire Corporation in 1967 at the age of just 21. From 1973 until 1977, he was a policy adviser to the then Tánaiste and Minister for Health, the then Labour Party leader, Brendan Corish. Flor O'Mahony was elected as a Member of Seanad Éireann on three occasions. First elected on the administrative panel to the Fifteenth Seanad in 1981, he served in the Seanad from 1981 until 1987. In March 1983, he was appointed as a Member of the European Parliament following the vacancy caused by the resignation of John Horgan.

After a long and distinguished career in politics, Flor O'Mahony moved on, as Members will know, to other endeavours, including becoming a public affairs consultant and lecturing in European affairs. He was admired and respected by many of us in public life and especially by his colleagues in the Labour Party, to whom we send our deepest sympathies today. As Cathaoirleach and on behalf of all of us, I convey my sincerest sympathy to his wife, Judy; his children, Patricia, Damian and Kate; his sons-in-law, Martin, Brian and Chris; his daughter-in-law, Verity; his brothers, Joseph and Francis; his sisters, Sheila and Mary; and his many friends and other relatives. He was sadly predeceased by his daughter, Siobhán, and we think of her today. Flor O'Mahony was a person I admired and always liked to engage with.

Members will know also that last week our parliamentary community was saddened and shocked by the passing of our colleague and friend, Councillor Damien O'Reilly, who worked with Senator Davitt in this House. He was a wonderful person, always a joy to meet in the corridor and to have a conversation with. As a public representative, he served his constituents with integrity and endeavour, and as a staff member here in Leinster House, he was always a font of information and a wonderful person to meet. To his fiancée, Lisa, his daughter, Carly, his stepson, Kyle, and his mum, Phil, along with Senator Davitt and Councillor O'Reilly's extended family and circle of friends and constituents, on Members' behalf and on my own, I extend our deepest sympathies. May he rest in peace.

Sula nglaoim ar an gCeannaire, ar son an tSeanaid, cuirim fáilte roimh an gCeannfort nua, Barry Ó Riain, a ceapadh le déanaí. Before I call on the Leader to announce the Order of Business, I ask Members to join me in welcoming our new superintendent, Mr. Barry Ryan, who is present today in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery. Barry takes up the role as Superintendent on the back of 29 years' service in the Defence Forces, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. His last appointment was as the commanding officer of the engineer group in the Defence Forces training centre in the Curragh camp. Superintendent, I wish you every success in your role and pledge to you the co-operation of all of us in this House. You are very welcome.

Before we commence the Order of Business, I welcome all Members to the autumn session. I know that many of them have been very active over the summer holidays and the recess. I hope they had a relaxing and well-earned rest.I remind Members that group spokespersons have three minutes for their contributions. All other Senators have a maximum of two minutes each and may raise only one issue. Senators should be reminded that the primary purpose of the Order of Business is to decide the arrangements for the taking of the business of the day. Contributions from Members should be directed mainly towards offering views on, or proposing amendments to, the proposed arrangements. A practice has developed over time of asking the Leader to arrange debates on matters at a later date and as Cathaoirleach I will, of course, continue to permit those contributions. Nevertheless, I ask all Members of the House not to make speeches on the Order of Business, no matter how important a matter be considered. Mechanisms under Standing Orders, such as Commencement matters and Private Members' motions, are available to Members, as are Second Stage contributions, to make substantive comment on the floor of the House. I ask Senators on the Order of Business to respect the fact there are two minutes for ordinary Members, with one item to be discussed, and the leader of each group has up to three minutes.

I welcome back the Leader and ask her to outline the proposed Order of Business.