Tag Archives: Seanad

This afternoon.

In the Seanad.

Statements on Palestine are being given before a vote on the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 is taken.

Earlier: Meanwhile, Outside Leinster House

Previously: Why A Trade Ban Is Necessary

UPDATE: 

Tánaiste and Mininster for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney was the first politician to make a statement.

Mr Coveney said:

“Speaking on behalf of the Government, I am unable to agree that this bill is the right way forward. And I want to set out carefully for the Seanad why I believe this is so.

“There are three broad reasons. Legal, political and in terms of practical effect. The overriding point which frames the Government’s view is that the bill asks the state to do something which we do not have in our power. Ireland is part of a single, unified EU market, external trade policy, that is trade by third countries into the EU, as well as trade between the EU members states is an exclusive competence of the European Union.

“We are not in a position to raise a barrier and declare that goods legally available elsewhere in the EU cannot be brought into Ireland for sale.

“There are some other legal difficulties with the bill but I will leave those aside for now because this is the essential point. It does not concern just how the legislation is framed or drafted, but the very ability of Ireland to enact such legislation within EU rules.

“Passage of this bill would therefore be a breach of European law and exposes Ireland to potentially legal action by the European Commission or affected individuals and potentially also to fines and damages which could continue as long as the bill remained in force. This is not a course that any Government could support….”

The Seanad debate can be watched live here

UPDATE:

https://twitter.com/frances_black/status/1017075492040691718

There you go now.

He looks well.

UK must accept it is decision time on Brexit – Hogan (RTE)

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But you can never take our FREEDOM.

*swishes kilt*

This morning.

Government Buildings, Dublin 2.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meets Seanad Ceann Comhairle, Senator Denis O’Donovan before addressing Seanad Eireann on the second day of her visit to Ireland.

Ms Sturgeon is the first serving head of a foreign government to speak to the Senate.

McFight!

Nicola Sturgeon Addresses irish Parliament (BBC)

Rollingnews

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Fine Gael senator Jerry Buttimer and Taoiseach Enda Kenny during the marriage referendum campaign last year

Leon Farrell/Rollingnews

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James Reilly and Michelle Mulherin; both lost their seats at the General Election

The former TDs parachuted into Seanad Eireann include Dr James Reilly, former health and children’s minister, and Mr Kenny’s past constituency running mates Michelle Mulherrin and John O’Mahony. Ray Butler who has represented Meath West in the past and Paudie Coffey, a former junior minister.

Frank Feighan, is also nominated. He is a former Senator and TD from Roscommon who decided not to stand in the February election after facing deep voter anger at health cuts in the county.

Enda Kenny retains five colleagues who lost jobs after election (Belfast Telegraph)

Previously: In The Line Of Feighan

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

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From top: Seanad chamber; Independent candidate Barry Johnston

London-based, Expat rights activist Barry Johnston is running for the Seanad as an independent and the first candidate to stand from ‘abroad’

It’s time, he says, for the upper house to get obstreperous

Barry  writes:

Ever since Fianna Fáil latched on to the idea of a ‘Programme for Parliament’, there’s been lengthy discussion about how the current challenges in appointing an executive may present an opportunity to rebalance the power towards the legislative branch of our government.

It is tempting to engage in a cathartic round of eye rolling when you hear Deputies, many having sat long on the Government benches, talking with the zeal of a convert about the need for ‘radical’, ‘far-reaching’, ‘root and branch’ political reform.

That the clichés about ‘Punch and Judy’ and ‘New Politics’ trip so lightly from TD’s tongues should prompt concern about the thoughtfulness of any proposals being trotted out.

Of course such cynicism might be misplaced, and the rebuke to the old order of politics delivered by the electorate could prompt our politicians to change their spots and vote for Christmas.

For what it’s worth, from my own experience working in parliamentary strengthening with Commonwealth legislatures, there are really three things that are required to shift power within Government: relaxing the whip, introducing the right of recall so voters can kick out under-performing representatives, and providing greater legal and research expertise to enable TDs to become legislators rather than solely case-workers.

One minor element has been missing from the debate however. Up until now discussion on parliamentary reform has focused solely on the Dáil, thereby ignoring fully one half of our parliamentary chambers.

It’s ironic, given how much huffing and puffing there was about Seanad reform in the last Oireachtas, that we seem to have forgotten the place exists while discussing reform in the new one.

But it does still exist. And it really does need reform.

This is usually the part where proponents of reform propose a new commission, maybe a working group. No, an expert group! It looks like the Dáil is getting an all-party committee on reform. Maybe we’d need one of those in the Seanad?

But we’ve been there. We’ve had numerous tracts on Seanad reform, not the least of which was last year’s paper by Maurice Manning.

This presents a ready to go package of reform that could be introduced immediately, bringing ‘radical’, ‘far-reaching’, ‘root and branch’ changes without the need for a referendum.

This would include universal suffrage, including citizens abroad. And these changes could be in place by the next-but-one Seanad elections – which might be very soon indeed depending on developments in the Dáil.

It’s not for want of new ideas that we have the arcane upper house we have; it’s a lack of political fortitude, including from within the Seanad itself. But with our TDs focused literally getting their own house in order could, and would, the new Seanad achieve something similar?

The role of the Seanad is constitutionally subordinate to that of the Dáil; and its powers are designed in such a way as to avoid any rivalry or blocking. Nonetheless, the Seanad does possess a variety of significant constitutional powers it can deploy independently of the Dáil.

It can veto a whole host of executive actions, can petition the president to refer controversial legislation to referendum, and can delay Government legislation for up to 3 months.

Normally of course, these powers aren’t used as successive Governments have had inbuilt majorities of heavily patronised voting fodder (with honourable exceptions) installed in the upper house.

But then of course, these are not normal times. As has been written elsewhere, the executive capture of the Seanad may be about to come unstuck.

The traditional alignment of local and national party politics that had previously ensured a Government majority has been disrupted.

Even with the 11 Seanad appointees in the gift of the Taosieach, neither a Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael minority government would likely secure enough votes for a majority in the Seanad.

An executive formed in such circumstances would have to enter into a wholly new arrangement with the upper house, relying on negotiation, consent and bargaining to pursue its legislative programme (the Seanad has no say in budgetary or ‘money’ matters).

This presents a unique, and possibly fleeting, opportunity for a Seanad to propose genuine reform of the chamber in exchange for assenting to other legislative measures desired by the Government. In short, it’s time for the Seanad to become a bit … awkward.

Of course the insidious whip hand of the parties will still be felt in the upper house with many, ostensibly independent Senators, having secured their positions through patronage at the local government level.

There’ll be prominent jobs on offer with the smaller parties, and plenty of favours to be won in backing the bigger parties jockeying for power.

In this context, the six votes of the University panels Senators could very well hold the balance of power on significant matters.

With ballot papers arriving in the post next Monday, there’s never been a more important time for university panel voters to weigh their privileged extra vote carefully, scrutinise the record and policies of candidates, and look for truly independent voices committed to reform.

A genuine reform programme for parliament will rely on it.

Barry Johnston is the founder of EmigrantManifesto, an independent candidate for the Seanad NUI Panel based in London, and a former advisor to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, UK.

Anon writes:

Deirdre  is the D in the D versus Ireland case

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside RTÉ last night

Last night during the Leaders’ Debate on RTÉ One.

Miriam O’Callaghan: “You promised, and I quote you, ‘a democratic revolution’. You were going to reinvent our country and yet one of the most embarrassing crony examples, John McNulty, you appointed him to the board of IMMA to get him on to a bigger board, the Seanad. You out Bertied Bertie….Taoiseach this was naked cronyism and, to be fair, you said at the time, you left your own standards and integrity down.”

Enda Kenny: “Yes.”

O’Callaghan: “What did you mean by that? What did you do?”

Kenny: “What I did was, I didn’t, what I did was make an appointment that did not need to be made. And I’ve changed the rules since then…”

Hmm.

In respect of the appointment to the board of IMMA, that was made by the Minister, Deputy Heather Humphreys, exercising her right as the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in respect of examining the qualifications of Mr. McNulty, who is a completely innocent person in this regard. Mr. McNulty was formally nominated on 17 September.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny addressing the Dáil on September 30, 2014.

Previously: The Crony Crisis Timeline

The John Deasy Transcript

H/T: Elaine Byrne and Kildare Street

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Ellen O’Malley Dunlop announcing her resignation as CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre this afternoon and her intention to seek a seat in the Seanad.

Previously: Rape Crisis? What Rape Crisis?

Via Ellen O’Malley Dunlop