Election of Leas-Cheann Comhairle (Resumed).

In respect of No. 4, Standing Order 9 states that notice is required, and I accept that. However, today's Order Paper contains the nomination of Deputy Howlin, against whom I have nothing at all, as Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Standing Order 30 states four days' notice must be given of a motion so that an amendment to it can be tabled with two days' notice. Many of these matters are at the discretion of the Ceann Comhairle. If I am wrong — and I accept what the Standing Order states about notice — the notice on today's Order Paper was not circulated in accordance with the other Standing Order which requires four days' notice. I am not proposing a new motion on the election of Leas-Cheann Comhairle but an amendment to what the Taoiseach wishes to speak about. I would prefer to come back to No. 4 and deal with that. Throughout the discussions I said I had objections to the motion before the House and I merely wish to clarify those objections.

If Deputy Kenny wishes to clarify the situation in the interest of proceeding with the business of the House, I will allow him to do so.

On No. 4, the Taoiseach said he wished to nominate Deputy Howlin as Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Deputy Rabbitte did not have an opportunity to respond to that. If Deputy Rabbitte wishes to respond first, I might then clarify my reasons for objecting to the motion in the manner proposed by the Taoiseach.

I pointed out before that the position was that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle at that point had been elected. I do not know if Deputy Kenny heard me say that, but that is precisely what I said.

I was asked if I objected to the motion and I said "Yes".

Then, it was up to you, Deputy Kenny, to call a vote.

Normally, the Ceann Comhairle says, "Is the motion agreed?". I said "No, it is not and I object to it". The Ceann Comhairle should then have put the question but you did not.

I did not put the question because nobody said——

Are you prepared to put the question now?

Then I will put the question.

In objecting to this item being taken without debate, I made the point that the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle is an important one. The Taoiseach confirmed that he wished the Opposition to hold the office of Leas-Cheann Comhairle. That being the case, the Leaders of the Opposition parties should at least have been invited to nominate a person whom the Opposition would put forward as the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

The Taoiseach has made a magnanimous gesture in allowing the Leas-Cheann Comhairle to be appointed from the Opposition benches. However, he has gone further and named an individual Deputy without any consultation with the Fine Gael Party which has 51 Members, almost a third of the Dáil Members. That shows contempt and shows no respect for an electoral mandate given to us by more than 500,000 people.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

I have no objection to the character or qualities of Deputy Howlin. I am sure many Deputies would fulfil the duties of Leas-Cheann Comhairle with great distinction. I wanted to propose the name of Deputy Pádraic McCormack, a long-serving Member with a great understanding of the rules in local authority, Seanad and Dáil business. He is a fitting person to hold this office.

I do not mean to be disrespectful to any other Member but the way in which this has been dealt with by the Government bypasses the major party in Opposition. The Taoiseach nominated a Member for the position while at the same time saying the nomination should be drawn from the ranks of the Opposition. It has been a long time since this happened and in my view it amounts to contemptuous treatment of the Dáil.

In speaking to my objection to the process by which this has been done, I put forward the name of Deputy Pádraic McCormack.

Then I will put the question.

I will say a word in support of the Taoiseach's nomination of my colleague, Deputy Brendan Howlin, for the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Deputy Kenny has quite rightly said there are a number of people in the House who could discharge the functions of Leas-Cheann Comhairle with distinction. I am bound to say I can think of no Member of the House, however, who is more suited to the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle than Deputy Brendan Howlin. He has served with distinction in this House for 20 years, in different positions in and out of Government. He is a skilled parliamentarian with a detailed knowledge of parliamentary procedure. He is dedicated to enhancing the institutions of the Oireachtas. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to second his nomination for Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

On the last day I made certain remarks on the election of the Ceann Comhairle about the departure of what is now becoming ancient practice, namely, a Member from the Opposition benches being installed as Ceann Comhairle. These remarks preceded the election of Deputy O'Donoghue and in no way impute any motives to him, partisan or otherwise. I do not do that but rather affirm the argument I made on the last day to the effect that it is important the practice of drawing the Ceann Comhairle from the Opposition side of the House should be reverted to. I acknowledge that the Taoiseach's approach to Deputy Howlin goes some way to redress the imbalance. However, all of us need to be concerned about both the relevance and perceived relevance of Dáil Éireann as regards its ability to respond to issues that preoccupy the public at any given time and about its agility in responding to issues of topical concern. More and more nowadays we live in a political environment where the winner takes all. I do not believe this is good for politics nor for the institutions of these Houses.

In addition to some 35 positions of office holders in the last Administration, out of 21 chairmen, 18 were drawn from the Government benches. I do not believe that is a sustainable position. It is an honourable tradition in this House that there ought to be a vigorous Opposition. The fact that positions predominantly go to the Government side of the House is not in keeping with that objective, however. In conclusion, I do not believe it is adequate for the Ceann Comhairle, his immediate predecessor or any holder of that office to say, in effect, "If you don't like the rules, change them". The truth is that unless the Government goes along with any proposed rule change, it will not happen. Frequently in the bartering that goes on, Government will naturally seek to protect its position. We therefore have to live within the rules as they exist. It is not just a question of the fair and impartial application of those rules, but a matter of their fair, impartial and commonsense application. Otherwise this side of the House is greatly constrained in its primary task of holding the Government to account.

Having said that, I am delighted to second the nomination of Deputy Brendan Howlin. It is an important gesture that there is somebody in the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle who is respected on all sides of the House, who has that knowledge of parliamentary procedure and who is dedicated to fairness. On my behalf and that of my party colleagues I wish him well in the discharge of the functions of that office.

Deputy Kenny made a keen observation on the importance of having all-party consultation on the appointment of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I hope that is what he meant and that he was not just referring to the two main Opposition parties. It is important that all parties and Opposition voices have the right to be consulted on such an important appointment given that we are all answerable to the Chair during the course of debate and other matters in this Chamber. It is important that we feel we are part of the selection process and are not just handed afait accompli.

While I recognise that Deputy Kenny's nominee, Deputy McCormack, is a fine and able Deputy with many years of experience, it is unfortunate that Deputy Howlin finds himself in stormy waters that are not of his making in the passage of his nomination.

I am sure he will survive.

It is important to affirm that there should be no smear or question attached to his nomination in seeking the role of Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Accordingly, the Sinn Féin Deputies will support Deputy Howlin's nomination to the position in line with the nomination originally presented. However, I ask that the points Deputy Kenny made on the future conduct of the selection process be taken on board by the Taoiseach — perhaps he will not be in a position to do so on the next occasion. I hope that whoever holds the position of Taoiseach in the future will listen to the concerns of Deputies regarding this election to the role of Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

Before putting the question, I wish to clarify that, not having been in a position to accept the nomination of Deputy Kenny, I was not being in any way derogatory in respect of Deputy McCormack. When Deputy Kenny first made the proposal, I did not know the name of the Deputy concerned. I merely pointed out then, and point out now that under the rules of the House it simply was not possible for me to accept, without notice from Deputy Kenny, a name by way of amendment to Deputy Howlin's nomination.

Question put: "That Deputy Brendan Howlin be elected Leas-Cheann Comhairle."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 106; Níl, 49.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, John.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • Perry, John.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P. J.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Dan Neville.
Question declared carried.

Tá mé fíor-bhuíoch den Teach as ucht mé a thoghadh mar Leas-Cheann Comhairle, ach go háirithe den Taoiseach agus de cheannaire Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre, an Teachta Rabbitte. Is mór an onóir domsa, do mo chlann, do mo dháilcheantar, agus do mo pháirtí é. Geallaim go ndéanfaidh mé mo dhícheall dualgais na hoifige a chomhlíonadh go díograiseach agus cothrom na féinne a thabhairt do gach Comhalta sa 30ú Dáil.

I am very grateful to the House and am deeply honoured to be elected to the office of Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

As was said kindly by those who supported me, I have a deep respect for the House and every Member who goes through the electoral process to get here. I look forward to making the declaration required of me when I take the Chair for the first time. I pledge to the House to do all I can to advance the rights and privileges of Members, who are democratically elected to the House, and to uphold the tradition and dignity of the House in all that I do in their name.

Ba mhaith liom cúpla focail buíochas a rá mar gheall ar mo cheannaire, an Teachta Enda Kenny, a mhol mé le bheith mar Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I thank my party leader for proposing me for the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle of the Dáil, a very prestigious and important position. I am honoured to have received the support of my party, Fine Gael, for the position and take the opportunity to wish Deputy Howlin every success as Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

I wish my constituency colleague, Deputy Howlin, the best of luck. Deputy Howlin has more than 20 years experience as a Member of the Oireachtas and will, no doubt, make a very fine Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Unfortunately, I was unable to support Deputy Howlin, but he will understand the process of democracy and my support for my party colleague, Deputy McCormack, who would also have made a very fine Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

I had many skirmishes with the last Ceann Comhairle but hope I will not have many with Deputy Howlin or the sitting Ceann Comhairle. I look forward to working with Deputy Howlin over the coming years.

I congratulate Deputy Howlin. During my 25 years in Wexford politics, sparring with Deputy Howlin, I have always found him to be decent and honourable. I have no doubt that he will carry out his duties in a fair and impartial manner.

I am delighted Deputy Howlin has been selected as Leas-Cheann Comhairle, though disappointed that Deputy McCormack did not make it. Unfortunately, that is the political process. I am a little bit dissatisfied with the way it has happened, but that is life.

I have known Deputy Howlin all my life, but did not expect to be speaking about him on the first occasion in the Dáil. We will all benefit from Deputy Howlin's knowledge and experience in the Chamber, including the Ceann Comhairle. Deputy Howlin will be a cool hand and a steady head and I wish him well.

I wish to be associated with the comments of my colleagues from the Wexford constituency. I am delighted for Deputy Howlin and his family. He is a very capable performer who has represented the people of Wexford very well over the years. He will command the respect of all sides of the House. I wish him well in his tenure.

I have known Deputy Howlin all his life. We were born on opposite sides of William Street in Wexford, he on the richer one. I have known the Howlin family all my life. Deputy Howlin's younger brother Ted, whom I believe is in attendance, was and remains my dearest friend.

Deputy Howlin was described as "decent" and "honourable" and I cannot think of two more appropriate words. He comes from a wonderful political family which has made a great contribution to politics not just in Wexford, but nationally. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Deputy Howlin.

Ba mhaith liom mo chomhghairdeas a ghabháil leis an Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Tá súil agam go mbeimid in ann obair ar son muintir na hÉireann agus ar son Tithe an Oireachtais. Níl aon dabht i mo aigne ach go mbeidh. I take the opportunity to congratulate warmly the Leas-Cheann Comhairle whom I have known for many years as a man of great integrity and sincerity. I look forward greatly to working with him on behalf of the House and the people of Ireland.

I congratulate Deputy Howlin who has many friends across the political divide in the House, among whom I include myself.

Allocation of Time: Motion.

I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or the order of the Dáil on this day, the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business will be interrupted on the conclusion of Private Members' time which shall be taken for 90 minutes on the conclusion of the Finance (No. 2) Bill 2007; the debate on Second Stage of No. 2 shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 8 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply: the speeches of the Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fine Gael and the Labour Party who shall be called upon in that order shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; Members may share time; and the Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes.

Question put and agreed to.

Restoration of Bills to Order Paper: Motion.

I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the Bills which lapsed on the dissolution of the 29th Dáil, and are set out in the Schedule to this motion, shall be proceeded with at commencement of the Stage each Bill had reached prior to dissolution unless specified otherwise in the Schedule.

SCHEDULE

Bill Title

Stage reached at dissolution of 29th Dáil

Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2006

Committee Stage

Charities Bill 2007

Order for Second Stage

Control of Exports Bill 2007 [Seanad]

Second Stage

Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Bill 2005 [Seanad]

Committee Stage

Fines Bill 2007

Order for Second Stage

Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Bill 2006 [Seanad]

Second Stage

Markets in Financial Instruments and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2007

Order for Second Stage

Nuclear Test Ban Bill 2006

Committee Stage

Passports Bill 2007

Order for Second Stage

Roads Bill 2007 [Seanad]

Second Stage

Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005

Order for Second Stage

Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2007

Order for Second Stage

I move amendmentNo. 1:

In the Schedule to delete "Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 —Order for Second Stage”.

I am particularly conscious that in the previous Dáil the Green Party, in particular, strongly supported the position of the Labour Party with regard to the Tribunals Of Inquiry Bill. While there is a case for reforming the procedure of tribunals, it is inappropriate to put this Bill before the House at this time, particularly when the Taoiseach is due to appear before the tribunals and strong attacks were launched on them. We do not want those conducting them to feel there is a sword of Damocles hanging over the tribunals in the proper conduct of their business, regardless of how exalted the personages who appear before them are.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 77; Níl, 69.

  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P. J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Question put and agreed to.

Allocation of Time: Motion.

I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the following arrangements will apply to the Finance (No. 2) Bill 2007: the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokesperson for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; Members may share time; a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes and the debate shall be brought to a conclusion not later than 8.05 p.m.

Question put and agreed to.