“We Have To Look At The Situation Where Gerry Adams Could Be The Next Tánaiste”

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90202727Hello you.

Michael McDowell appeared on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk this morning to rule out a run for Europe, rail against the whip system and lend his weight to saving the Upper House.

Kenny: “Okay, so it’s just not true, end of story, put to bed – good-bye, Michael McDowell is NOT running for Europe. So let’s talk about the Seanad, which is our agenda today. The business of absolute power going to the Dail, you believe that, in the absence of the Seanad, that would be the case?”

McDowell: “If there’s only one House in our Parliament and that House is being controlled by the Whips in the way our Dail is, then there will in fact be no room for independent voices, or people to challenge the Government. And let’s take an example Pat, I mean, i don’t agree with all her views on abortion, but look what happened to Lucinda Creighton, she was effectively thrown out of her job, thrown out of her office and then told she would not be selected again as a candidate by the Fine Gael Party – in circumstances where any Congressman in The United States is free to do, and indeed any Parliamentarian in Britain is free to do, and that is to vote in accordance with her conscience.”

Kenny: “But The Whip System is there for a reason, I mean, during that particular debate, we pointed out on a number of occasions that it offered a fig leaf to those who say, ‘I’m only voting for it because The Whip is in place, I’m a loyal party member ‘. You know, it allows things to happen.”

McDowell: “That’s a cowardly approach, if you don’t mind me saying so. I mean, the Progressive Democrats , when we were in The Dail had a rule in our party constitution that nobody could be forced in The Dail to vote against their conscience. In Britain, for instance, recently in relation to the Syria Crisis, both Liberal Democrat and Tory MPs voted against the Government. So, our Whip System is the most vicious in Europe – and the consequences for breaching it are the most harsh in Europe .”

Kenny: “Even though we inherited from the British system, they have a less malign system than we have?”

McDowell: “Absolutely. People like Winston Churchill were always rebelling against his Party and changing party and the like and that was the norm.”

Kenny:
“What about the Progressive Democrats, what was a matter of conscience – could you have a matter of conscience on a budgetary matter, could you have a matter of conscience on a Transport Bill?”

McDowell: “There’s a business on the rules of the party that had to be on the matter of conscience.”

Kenny:
“And what might that be?”

McDowell:
“Well, I mean there’s no limit to where conscience can go, but I mean we intrepretated it in a bona fide manner and two of our deputies availed of it on one occasion.”

Kenny: “When you criticise The Government for wanting this absolute power grab, even they can’t believe that they will be in government forever. So, you wonder if your logic is persuasive, why would they want to do something, they, in opposition would be crucified by?”

McDowell: “Well, I mean, they don’t believe that they would be dominant in a reformed Seanad, such as has been proposed by Fargal Quinn and Katherine Zappone – they are hopeful that they are re-elected, I don’t believe they will.”

Kenny: “Even if they are re-elected, the election after that, in the way of things, they will not be re-elected, why would they create a stick to beat themselves with?”

McDowell: “That’s a very good point Pat, I mean we have to look at the situation where Gerry Adams could be the next Tanaiste. Who knows who will be in power after the next election. And commitments and promises made by this Government about how they intend to run this Dail will not have any constitutional status. I notice in today’s Irish Times that there’s a story that they are planning to have some kind of procedure whereby before they publish Bills, they will invite people in the public to comment on them, and they will have some kind of process…”

Kenny: “Let me just explain for people who haven’t got The Times today, there will be a selection committee – so if Michael McDowell, for example, offers his views on Dublin traffic management – on which you’re not qualified, although you would have views, they will decide if you are competent enough, or appropriate enough, or experienced enough , or expert enough to participate in this consultation process.”

McDowell: “Pat, that is the greatest joke of all time – all committees in The Dail are subject to a Party Whip and if the minister doesn’t want Michael McDowell in there, at that hearing – I won’t be called.”

Listen here

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)