Thirty-second Amendment of the Constitution (Abolition of Seanad Éireann) Bill 2013: Committee and Remaining Stages

Before Committee Stage commences, I would like to deal with a procedural matter relating to Bills to amend the Constitution. The substance of the debate on Committee Stage relates to the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment which is contained in the Schedules to the Bill. The sections of the Bill are merely technical. Therefore, in accordance with long-standing practice, the sections are postponed until consideration of the Schedules have been completed. Is that agreed? Agreed.

SCEIDEAL 1
SCHEDULE 1

Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 are out of order.

SCEIDEAL 2

SCHEDULE 2

Níor tairgeadh leasaithe uimh. 8 agus 9.
Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 not moved.
Aontaíodh an cheist: "Gurb é Sceideal 1 an Sceideal 1 a ghabann leis an mBille."
Question, "That Schedule 1 be the Schedule 1 to the Bill", put and agreed to.
Aontaoíodh an cheist: "Gurb é Sceideal 2 an Sceideal 2 a ghabann leis an mBille."
Question, "That Schedule 2 be the Schedule 2 to the Bill", put and agreed to.
SCEIDEAL 3
SCHEDULE 3

Tairgim leasú a 10:

I gCuid 1, leathanach 13, líne 9, “ceithre dhuine dhéag” a scriosadh agus “deichniúr” a chur ina ionad.

agus

I gCuid 2, leathanach 31, líne 44, “fourteen” a scriosadh agus “ten” a chur ina ionad.

I move amendment No. 10:

In Part 1, page 12, line 10, to delete “ceithre dhuine dhéag” and substitute “deichniúr”.

and

In Part 2, page 30, line 47, to delete “fourteen” and substitute “ten”

This amendment deals with nominations for President. The all-party Joint Committee on the Constitution recommended in its final report that the number of Deputies required to nominate a candidate in presidential elections should be reduced from 14 to ten. Ten Deputies would be the equivalent of 100,000 first preference votes, which is a high bar in itself. We have an opportunity with this referendum to make the change it recommended.

When our Constitution was first framed, the citizen was at its heart. The decade of the 1930s was a very different backdrop to the drafting of the Constitution than the present context. Rights had been restricted in some countries, Germany being the most obvious example, and the Constitution represented a visionary and enlightened approach to protecting rights. I do not think people realise the extent of the changes proposed to be made on foot of the abolition of the Seanad. While there are flaws in the Constitution, I value the fact that it is written down.

In changing the number of nominating Deputies we have an opportunity to enhance citizens' choices in presidential elections. A candidate can secure a nomination with the backing of four councils but, as we saw in the previous election, there can be considerable political interference in the form of instructions from head offices to various councillors to the effect that they should not support certain candidates. It is reasonable to reduce the number from 14 to ten given that it has been recommended by the all-party committee and I commend the amendment to the House.

I support the amendment. There should be no undue restriction on citizens who want to vote for a candidate of their liking. I have a problem with the Bill as a whole and, while I understand that my amendments were ruled out of order because they were not in the spirit of a Bill that proposes the complete abolition of the Seanad, we cannot have a proper debate on Committee Stage if other options are not open for discussion. It is regrettable that my amendments were ruled out of order. We should have been able to tease out the reason a preferendum was not presented as an option. The approach proposed by Deputy Catherine Murphy could have been fully debated, as could a range of other issues.

This is probably the biggest change to the Constitution we will undertake. As we can see from the Bill, the changes are not confined to a single Article of the Constitution. The fact that the debate is being guillotined in the space of an hour means we will not have sufficient time to discuss each of the Articles proposed to be amended. I could show Deputies the divergence between the Constitution as Gaeilge agus as Bearla. While amendment No. 10 proposes to change a number from 14 to ten, the question of how that is presented in the first language can often be interpreted differently from its presentation in English. I am disappointed that we will not be able to tease out the consequences of ending a Chamber, albeit an undemocratic one in many ways. I would also like to have the time to understand the full effects of apparently minor changes, some of which will be unknown to the vast majority of citizens. They will have consequences for the democratic life of this country.

While amendment No. 10 proposes limited change, I would like to hear what the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has to say about it. Other issues could have been addressed in the context of this referendum. These are the issues that the public believed the Constitutional Convention would address when it was first suggested as a vehicle for changing the Constitution. The Government decided to take a different tack, however.

I support the amendment. The role that Senators play as Members of the Oireachtas is important in terms of nominating presidential candidates. If the people agree to abolish the Seanad, will the Government consider a different process of nomination?

In such circumstances, would the Constitutional Convention be responsible for making recommendations to the Government and subsequently to this Parliament? Will the Minister throw some light on that before he expresses his resolute objections to the amendment that has been proposed?

Like Deputy Ó Snodaigh, we are displeased that ample time has not been provided to deal with these amendments. We are especially unhappy that no alternative to abolition has been proposed by the Government, which has offered no recognition of the many reports and recommendations that have emanated from members of the Government parties over the years with regard to the role that could be played by an enhanced and reformed Seanad. As many of our speakers said on Second Stage, we respect the methodology that was used when the Seanad was established by de Valera and agreed as part of the Constitution. We accept that the Seanad has been hijacked by many political parties over the years. We accept that the manner in which it is elected means that its composition is undemocratic.

There has to be a means by which a second Chamber can have a role in our democracy. It is needed to accentuate the legislative process and to scrutinise Government proposals. That is at the core of why we believe it is a failure on the part of the Government not to offer the electorate more than the mere abolition that is proposed. There should be an option for an alternative Seanad to be put to the people. As I said when I contributed to the Second Stage debate last week, my party's position is "use it or lose it", rather than the "vote against it or keep it" approach that is being proposed. I reiterate our support for the amendment before the House. If it is not accepted by the Government, at least the House should be given an indication of the various methods that Members of the Oireachtas will be able to use when candidates are being selected to go before the people in a presidential election.

I also support Deputy Catherine Murphy's amendment. It reinforces my view that if we abolish the Seanad, in line with the wishes of the Government, the nomination process used in advance of presidential elections will be more confined than it is at present. Has any clear thought been given to a replacement process? At present, a candidate in a presidential election can be nominated by 20 Members of the Houses or by four county councils. It could be argued - it is a statistical and mathematical fact - that the removal of 60 Members of the Oireachtas will diminish the ability of the Oireachtas to nominate presidential candidates. That would have an undermining effect. We all know what happens in this Chamber when the Whip system is invoked. Deputies slavishly walk in here and vote according to the Whip. This restriction on the nominating process would confine the ability of the presidency to be genuinely a presidency of the people. If the Minister has thought about this aspect of the matter, perhaps he will elucidate his thoughts on what might replace the 60 nominations that will be lost if the people vote "Yes" in the referendum. Potentially, three presidential candidates could be nominated in this way. If large Opposition parties are unable to nominate candidates, we might end up with a presidency that is agreed by the Government.

The Deputy's party is the only one to have done that.

Fianna Fáil has 19 Deputies at present. As things stand, neither Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin nor the Technical Group would have the capacity to nominate a candidate.

A candidate can be nominated by four county councils.

Therefore, this measure could have a very limiting effect on the number of candidates who might present themselves in a presidential election. It is inherently unfair, particularly in light of the efforts being made to bring the presidency closer to the people, to make it more involved and more open and to ensure it is part and parcel of everyday life. In that context, surely the President should have a legitimate mandate from the people. It is critically important for that mandate to be given in a healthy democratic contest. It gives the President legitimacy and brings him or her closer to the people. This amendment is worthy in that context. It seems that in sweeping the Seanad aside, the Government is not willing to tell us what will replace the current process in order to ensure healthy presidential contests continue to take place. At the moment, many candidates can be facilitated by Members of the Oireachtas, which is critically important. If the Minister has a proposal, we would like to hear it.

I support this amendment even though I am not convinced of the need for a presidency.

The Deputy would prefer a totalitarian regime.

The Government is moving very close to such a regime.

If we are to continue to have a presidency, ordinary people should be able to influence the process of selecting candidates. That process should be as open as possible. This amendment is a reflection of the need to set a low bar when it comes to the ability of ordinary citizens to put candidates forward. Deputy Kelleher's point about the party Whip system is generally true. This change will cause a problem for the parties in here. Luckily, the citizens will have another conduit for nominating candidates. I refer to the Independent group and others that do not operate party Whips.

They are very united.

They would want more than a Whip to keep them together.

We are open and diverse. We listen to the people. The amendment speaks to a more fundamental problem, to which others have alluded. I am in favour of the abolition of the Seanad because it is undemocratic and it needs to go. There is a serious danger that the Government will be defeated on this, however. People are worried that the parts of our democracy that will remain after the Seanad is abolished will not deliver what they want. I think the Government is shoring up trouble for itself. It would be ironic if those who would like the Seanad to be abolished in order to facilitate a greater level of democracy end up voting against its abolition because they do not trust the rest of the system to deliver real democracy for people. While I support the abolition of the Seanad, the manner in which the Government is providing for it is a big problem, as is the imposition of a guillotine on what should be a much more detailed discussion about the alternatives. The Government promised a debate on how we can enhance democracy. That should have been part of the package. Regardless of what one thinks about the Seanad, it is a worrying harbinger of the Government's attitude to this issue and this debate that it has sought to impose a guillotine on this substantial change to the way politics is done in this country and to the Constitution. I support the amendment, but I think the Government's attitude is causing it to career towards a bit of a disaster on this issue. It should give serious consideration to that.

I support Deputy Catherine Murphy's amendment. On the greater context of this issue, I want to make it clear that I am totally opposed to the Government's proposal to abolish the Seanad. I will outline my reasons for taking that position. Unlike many other people, I have a couple of great reasons to support the abolition of the Seanad. I would not leave that jaundice my opinion. Of course there should be reform. The Seanad should be a more workmanlike place.

While great contributions have been made by individuals over the years, we all know very well that many people who have possessed seats in that House have copied and mimicked the work of county councillors and Deputies-----

I am afraid you will have to stick to the amendment.

I will stick to the amendment.

You are not doing a good job of it at the moment.

They have used that as their way of carving out their political career. The Minister knows I have nothing but respect for him in his role in this Government, but I have to include my total disgust at the abolition of town councils. I will go back to the amendment, as the Ceann Comhairle rightly says, but, before I do, I make the point that the issue of abolishing the town councils will come back in time. It will not bite the Minister, because he will go on to greater and better things, and good luck to him, but it will bite the party and parties who have supported their abolition because it is a wrong decision.

Thank you, Deputy.

I respect town councillors and the work they------

That is fine, but you cannot respect them tonight.

I will respect them some other time.

To come back to the amendment and to the whole reason we are here tonight, and the reason we are going to have another vote, I believe the abolition of the Seanad is a retrograde step. Of course, there should be reform. The Ceann Comhairle is an experienced man and has been here a long time. He has seen many good people and other people go through the Seanad. Probably more than any other Member of this House, he knows the value of a good, working Seanad and having people there to perform their duties, and, as I said, not copying or mimicking, or trying to take credit for the work of others. We have a share of those and they are experts at it. They would be fit for Hollywood at this stage. Their acting capacity and their ability to claim credit for the work of others knows no bounds.

I have to ask what this has to do with the difference between 14 and ten.

I am coming back to that.

Would you get back to it? This is a very limited debate and there are a number of amendments. We have just 27 minutes left.

To finish where I started, I support Deputy Catherine Murphy in her amendment and I thank the Ceann Comhairle for his indulgence.

I support the amendment but that is not to say I support the idea that we need ten Dáil Deputies, let alone 14, for a citizen to be qualified to stand for the presidency. I have been calling for the abolition of the Seanad for more decades than the Taoiseach is in the Dáil, which is a very long time, but I abstained on Second Stage of this Bill to make a protest with regard to continuing with this provision in the Constitution. I must protest that the proposal that 1,000 electors nominating a particular person would be sufficient to qualify him or her as a presidential candidate was ruled out of order. I do not understand the reasoning that was given in that regard because what one is talking about here is qualification to stand as a candidate. It is as much of a qualification to suggest 1,000 electors as it is to suggest 14 Members of the Dáil or, indeed, ten.

The presidency, quite frankly, is an establishment institution. It is a decoration. It should be abolished because, in my view, the office of the presidency is meaningless in reality. However, if it is there, it should be open to any citizen to stand for it and should not be confined to the political establishment, which is largely where candidates will come from and have come from in the past because of the qualifications that were deliberately set down in order to confine it to a very narrow range of political opinion in this State.

Fianna Fáil has made some criticisms tonight of the Government position. I take it from Deputy Kelleher it is calling for a change in the qualification criteria to stand for the presidency.

We have no choice as they are abolishing the Seanad.

If my memory serves me correctly, when I was in the Dáil previously, Fine Gael moved a Private Members' Bill proposing that 20,000 signatures of electors would be a qualification for standing for the presidency. Yet, now that Fine Gael is in government, there is no proposal whatsoever to broaden this out.

I support the abolition of the Seanad and I will vote for that in the final vote tonight. Quite frankly, I am worried about being on the same side as the Government over the next few months in the campaign leading up to the referendum.

We are worried about you too, Joe.

Unfortunately, what is a progressive move in getting rid of an elitist institution, which most of our people would agree with, in my view, is tainted because of the nature and policies of the Government that is moving it. It is quite possible that people will take the opportunity to give the Government a kicking. Indeed, I will have to make it very clear in the course of any campaign that my economic policies, as a socialist, are diametrically opposed to those of the Government, which are in every way disastrous for our society but are also anti-democratic. We are talking here about extending democracy but we have a Government that bends the knee and capitulates to the troika and the financial markets at every stage.

The Bill proposes to amend the Constitution to provide that not less than 14 serving Members of Dáil Éireann may nominate a candidate for President, so I suggest Deputy Kelleher did not read the Bill.

I did. It is the Whip system that is the problem.

It is that the 19 members of Fianna Fáil could not nominate a candidate.

We could not do so at present.

I am talking about the Bill before us. At present, a nomination under this provision requires not less than 20 Members of both Houses, so we are proposing 14.

The Government is proposing 60 fewer Oireachtas Members.

I am trying to facilitate Fianna Fáil. In fact, one would have thought the process was very cumbersome to get into the field but we had seven candidates in the last presidential election. I would not know how they got nominated at all if I were to listen to the Opposition. The qualification of nomination by four city or county councils will also remain as a nominating process.

We will have fewer of them also.

Deputy Higgins will agree we had a really good slate of candidates in terms of representing most views in Ireland.

We had Michael D. Higgins, Seán Gallagher, Martin McGuinness, Gay Mitchell, David Norris, Dana-----

Will we get back to the Bill?

We had a good cross-section of people to choose from on the last occasion.

RTE did not think so.

The reduction in the number of Oireachtas Members required to nominate a presidential candidate arises from the proposal to abolish the Seanad, as well as the planned reduction in the number of Deputies after the next general election. The reduction proposed in the Bill will maintain the existing ratio between the overall number of Members and the number of nominations required to secure a presidential nomination.

The Bill deals solely with maintaining this existing ratio. It does not go beyond this, nor does it address issues such as the popular nomination of presidential candidates. To do so would be to go beyond what arises as a consequence of abolition of the Seanad. Accordingly, the Government cannot accept this amendment. However, it might be noted, first, that there were seven candidates on the last occasion, with the current system. Second, as mentioned by Deputy Ó Snodaigh and others in regard to popular nomination, we have a report from the Constitutional Convention that advocates a popular nomination process for presidential elections. That is a separate issue which the Government will consider in the near future in regard to whether it wishes to proceed on a number of signatures for the purposes of nominating a candidate from the citizens.

This was a very tame amendment, although some of the other amendments are more serious. It was an all-party Oireachtas committee that recommended a lowering of the number to ten which, along with nomination by two county councils and directly by 10,000 citizens, were the three recommended entry ways.

We are asked in the context of the abolition of the Seanad to see this as a major reform measure. We are to have the abolition first before we see substantial Dáil reform. It does not bode well when a fairly tame amendment that was recommended by an all-party Oireachtas committee in which Fine Gael participated, cannot get support. Less than an hour was given here for Committee and Remaining Stages. This is a sham because there is no intention by the Government seriously to debate or accept any of the amendments. In the context of the abolition of the Seanad, many other things happen, as others have said. I will use the next amendment on Article 12 as an example. If one was to proffer a charge against the President, one used to require 30 votes in the Seanad and the Dáil. I propose it changes to 50, and there is a world of difference there. Some of the safeguards in the Constitution come with the abolition of the Seanad. Those 30 Members of the Dáil can be made up by the Cabinet and Ministers of State. It is not about a pro rata change. It is a fundamental change on some levels of protections, which are there for the citizens of this State.

If the Government cannot accept something that was recommended by the all-party Oireachtas committee I do not know why we are all going to sit here until 10.30 p.m. and why the Government allows the Committee and Remaining Stages when there is such a disregard for the process, so little time is given, there is no intention whatsoever seriously to engage, scripts are written before Members come here and a small amendment such as that does not even get consideration.

The Minister dismissed, as Deputy Catherine Murphy said, a tame amendment. I put down a number of amendments. We are restricted in how we can frame amendments on a constitutional Bill, especially one which had as its target the abolition of the Seanad. One has to work within those confines and I obviously failed in my amendments because they were ruled out. That is not to say that the intent of those amendments was inappropriate and on Committee Stage, with more time, I would have debated them on the relevant sections. I will not go into them here.

The question is to change from 14 to ten Members. We changed the nominating process for Deputies in the past and it was reduced and made much easier so citizens of the State could easily nominate themselves with the support of 30 other constituents from the relevant constituency. That made it easier and some people might say it allowed people in who otherwise would not have stood, and might have confused the issue. That is the nature of democracy. The next Dáil election will have 40 constituencies. If I were to stand in 40 constituencies, which I would be entitled to do, I would need to find 1,200 nominating individuals, 30 in each constituency. That is the type of figure the Government should be discussing as a minimum requirement for a nomination as President. Every citizen should be entitled to contest a presidential election. We probably had a bigger number of candidates in the last presidential election than in many of the previous elections and it was a better election for that. In future we should encourage people because then we might have a debate on the role of the presidency, as we have had.

The figure of 1,000 I mentioned may be too low and maybe it should be 10,000 but it needs to be something manageable by the ordinary citizen. In the past we excluded the citizen from the nominating process. Nominations had to come from Deputies, Senators or county councillors. There is no nomination process for the mere citizen. There can never be a President under the age of 35 years. Whether one agrees or disagrees with having a young President, there is probably some logic to it, but that is something to be argued in a presidential election, because there are some quite able young people.

We could have debated the effects of what the Government was proposing. While changing the Constitution to give effect to what the Government has proposed in this Bill, there could have been a range of other changes, whether to the nomination process for presidential elections or how the Dáil operated. One of my most significant criticisms of this is that nothing is presented to show how the Dáil will change in the future, whether election to the Dáil, how it operates or how it relates to the Executive. Those are the promises that are being made. We are having a debate here on a single issue out of context because the effect of it is what is in this Bill, each of the changes that are being impacted by the people if they accept the proposition to abolish the Seanad. The Government could have tinkered with and accepted some of the proposals which Deputy Catherine Murphy and a range of people have proposed over the years to try to make the system of Government in this country more democratic, reflective and transparent. These issues were not given to the Constitutional Convention.

The Constitutional Convention was mentioned earlier. We have approached this almost in a backwards fashion because the Constitutional Convention was not allowed to discuss the Seanad abolition and had its discussions around the Dáil electoral system, changes to it and how it works before any discussion of the effects of this proposition if it happens. The dismissive attitude is regrettable. Instead of reducing the required number of nominating Members to 14 it should nearly be abolished and it should not be the preserve of Deputies or county councillors. Why should it be the preserve of elected Members only to nominate presidential candidates? Why are citizens not allowed to make nominations? In a supposed republic every citizen is supposed to be equal. That provision in the Constitution makes some people more equal than others.

The discussion on this amendment proves the point that many of the amendments and deletions to the Constitution in the Bill affect the Constitution in a substantive way. That should be message enough for the Government to realise the folly of what it is proposing here, the method by which it is proposing it and the manner in which it is treating the process by guillotining the Bill within an hour of the opening of Committee and Final Stages.

This is symptomatic of the journey since 2009 when the leader of Fine Gael, on nothing more than a whim and in an effort to gain popularity for himself rather than with his party, put forward this proposal, without any thought process or any internal party discussion or negotiation. This is evident not only in the subsequent commentary but also in the contributions of many of the Taoiseach's party members and of the Labour Party during the Second Stage debate. The consistency of the Government's pursual is evident in the manner in which the various Stages of the Bill are being dealt with in the House. Such substantive amendments and deletions being made to Bunreacht na hÉireann is of grave consequence for many facets of the Constitution and only one of which is being discussed with regard to this amendment. This is very disrespectful. It is disgraceful for the Government to treat the Constitution in that flippant manner. Unfortunately, this has been the theme since this very idea was mooted on a whim. The manner in which it is being brought through the House is also on a whim but the disrespect for the Constitution is far from a whim.

I ask the Minister responsible if he wishes to disregard the recommendations, not only of Deputy Catherine Murphy but also the recommendations of the constitutional review group, those of the all-party committee and the essence of this amendment, that ten Members and, by extension, at least 10,000 voters would be allowed to make a presidential candidate nomination. I ask the Minister to comment, for the benefit of the rest of us and for the benefit of the electorate, on the flippant and disrespectful manner in which he and the Government are treating this issue, considering the substantial amendments and deletions being made to the Constitution and by dealing with Second and Subsequent Stages of the Bill in less than one hour. I ask him to comment and to confirm that he is disregarding the constitutional review group and the all-party committee which was made up of many of the Minister's esteemed colleagues in government and in his party. Is he disrespecting them in the same manner as the Taoiseach disrespected the views and opinions of many Members who were not party to this decision and this policy trip on which the Taoiseach has embarked?

I am glad to clarify that the constitutional review group of 1996 recommended reducing the number of Members of either House required for the nomination of a presidential candidate, and that is what we are doing. It is a ratio proportionate to the number of Members of the House. Deputy Murphy can pick any number she wishes. We are not being disrespectful in any way of the right of the Deputy to put down whatever figure she wishes but she picked a figure from the recommendations of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution in 1998. The Government has decided this figure is too low and we are also entitled to our view.

Will the Minister explain why?

The Government is entitled to a view as well as everyone else.

Why can any citizen not stand?

We are looking at the nominating process for presidential candidates as part of the Constitutional Convention. It is a separate issue. I have replied to Deputy Higgins and to Deputy Ó Snodaigh that we have an open mind on whether there is a role for citizens in a popular nomination of a presidential candidate, based on signatories. We are not ruling it out. In the event that the people will subscribe to the view that we need a unicameral Parliament rather than a bicameral Parliament, we propose to reduce the number of nominating Members to 14. I think Deputy Kelleher misinterpreted the situation completely in his contribution when he said that Fianna Fáil, with 19 Members, would not have an opportunity-----

That is not what he said.

That is what he said.

Through the Chair, please.

I did not interrupt Deputy Healy Rae.

Please proceed, Minister.

We have to pick a figure that is in proportion and in ratio to the existing number of Members.

Will the Minister respond to my comments? Does he wish to elaborate on or to answer any of my questions about the manner in which this Bill is being dealt with in the House?

That is not a matter dealing with the amendment under discussion.

Cuireadh an cheist, "Go bhfanfaidh na focail a thairgtear a scriosadh", agus faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh léi.
Question, "That the words proposed to be deleted stand", put and declared carried.
Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis diúltú don leasú.
Amendment declared lost.

There was silence on that side.

Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 are out of order.

Níor tairgeadh leasuithe uimh. 11 agus 12.
Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 not moved.

Tairgim leasú a 13:

I gCuid 1, leathanach 13, líne 47, “tríocha” a scriosadh agus “caoga” a chur ina ionad.

agus

I gCuid 2, leathanach 33, líne 32, “thirty” a scriosadh agus “fifty” a chur ina ionad.

I move amendment No. 13:

In Part 1, page 12, line 48, to delete “tríocha” and substitute “caoga”.

and

In Part 2, page 32, line 34, to delete “thirty” and substitute “fifty”.

This amendment refers to impeachment of a President. The point of tabling these amendments was to demonstrate that certain deletions were beyond the proposal for the abolition of the Seanad as people strictly understand it. There is a world of difference between 30 Members in the Seanad or 30 Members in the Dáil being enabled to do that. In my view that number should be increased as a safeguard. These safeguards were included for very good reason. For example, in a Yeats poem, every dot and comma has a purpose and it is the same for the Constitution which must be read in harmony.

Amendment No. 14 proposes to delete Article 27 which received some attention at the weekend. My amendment No. 15 also proposes a safeguard. This Government would not even have to rely on agreement from the Opposition as it would have sufficient numbers to remove a High Court judge because two thirds is lower than the number of Government Deputies. We are supposed to protect the separation of powers. There is a risk in not looking in considerable detail at the kind of consequences and the kind of safeguards we should consider in the context of the abolition of the Seanad.

I supported Second Stage of this Bill. I agree with a unicameral system in the context of proper Dáil reform and a decent local government system. The problem is we are putting the cart before the horse all the time and we are not considering adequately the kinds of safeguards that were thought out in considerable detail back in 1937.

There are things in the Constitution which I would prefer were not there or which I would prefer were in a different form. I would prefer if other things were included. However, if we propose to change the Constitution, the proposed change must be given the kind of consideration it deserves. It is offensive that tonight we are taking a cursory glance at a few amendments. Other amendments have been ruled out of order and the Bill did not receive anything like the necessary scrutiny. I think the referendum will pass but note should have been taken of the approach in the debate on the inquiries referendum legislation in the House. The Government has not learned the lesson. It is taking a cavalier approach to the Dáil and the Constitution.

Ós rud é go bhfuil sé leathuair tar éis a deich, ní foláir dom an cheist seo a leanas a chur de réir Ordú an lae seo ón Dáil: “Go n-aontaítear leis seo i gCoiste ó ailt 1 go dtí ailt 5, go huile, Sceideal 3 agus Sceideal 4, an Réamhrá agus an Teideal agus go dtuairiscítear an Bille gan leasú don Teach dá réir sin; go gcríochnaítear leis seo an Ceathrú Céim; agus go ndéantar leis seo an Bille a rith.”

As it is now 10.30 p.m., I am required to put the following question in accordance with an Order of the Dáil of this day: "That sections 1 to 5, inclusive, Schedules 3 and 4, the Preamble and the Title are hereby agreed to and the Bill is reported to the House without amendment, that Fourth Stage is hereby completed and that the Bill is hereby passed."

Cuireadh an cheist.
Question put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 88; Níl, 30.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Luke 'Ming'.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Nulty, Patrick.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Wallace, Mick.
  • Walsh, Brian.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Browne, John.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Question declared carried.
Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis glacadh leis an gceist