Election of Leas-Cheann Comhairle (Resumed)

We now proceed to the selection of a candidate for the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle by way of secret ballot. I call upon the Clerk of the Dáil, Mr. Peter Finnegan, to conduct the proceedings.

Cléireach na Dála

I must inform the House that following receipt of nominations for the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the following is the list of validly nominated candidates: Deputy Seán Crowe, Deputy Bernard J. Durkan, Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher and Deputy Mattie McGrath.

As there is more than one candidate, the candidate who will be proposed for election by the House will be selected by secret ballot. Before proceeding to the secret ballot, I will call on each candidate in the order in which I received their nominations to speak on their own behalf. Each candidate shall have five minutes. I call Deputy Mattie McGrath.

I will not delay the House long. I am delighted that we have reached the point today that we will elect someone to the office of Leas-Cheann Comhairle. It is a very important office in support of the Ceann Comhairle and in the functioning of this House. If privileged to be elected to that post, I will do my utmost to ensure parity of esteem for each and every Member, ensure Standing Orders are upheld, to the best of my ability ensure that the House runs smoothly, and carry out all other functions both in the Chamber and outside as would be expected of me. I would be honoured to do that to the best of my ability.

I plead with Members once again, if they see fit, to vote for me today. I wish the other three candidates well. I wish the successful candidate all the best and he will have my fullest co-operation.

Cléireach na Dála

The next Member to speak is Deputy Bernard J. Durkan.

It seems like we have been here before.

A Deputy

Groundhog Day.

The great Yogi Berra once described situations like this, as being "like déjà vu all over again." That said, it is a great honour to have been nominated by my parliamentary party to fulfil the role of Leas-Cheann Comhairle. It is a great honour to be elected to this House at any time. It is a great honour to serve in the House and it has been a great honour to serve for many years, as you know, a Cheann Comhairle, along with your good self and many others. I hope I have learned some things along the way. I hope I am still learning. It is no harm to learn a little bit as one goes along.

We live in very interesting times and we have to adapt, as I have said previously. We have to be cautious as to how we deal with the situations that arise to a greater extent than we ever did previously. We also need to encourage the new Members of the House to be able to stand up and speak in the House on their own behalf and on behalf of their constituents, to do so fearlessly and to have the confidence to do it and to know they have a job to do, a role to fill and words to say.

We all need to develop a greater recognition and respect for the words we say always in the House but, more especially, to each other. The way in which we address each other in the House can be reflected in the way the public regards us and examine our performance. At a time when politics and public life is challenged, it is important we look at ourselves in this self critical way to try to ensure that what we do does not reflect badly on the House and those we represent, but contributes to the Order of Business in the way the Ceann Comhairle would like us to proceed at all times.

I do not know what the outcome will be. I would be greatly honoured to be allowed to fill the role. I do not know how people will vote. There is no restriction on anybody voting for me who wishes to vote for me. For those who might not wish to vote for me, I encourage them to think long and carefully about it, think again and, maybe, they might have a weak moment and, perhaps, vote for me.

When we pass this way, and I hope we will not pass this way but once, we should learn a few things. I have learned, over time, that one should never become bitter in politics. It is very important. It leaves a lasting taste not only in the minds of the people in the House, but in the minds of people outside the House who watch, absorb and take it on board. We should also try to remember that, whatever we do, we should never take somebody's character, either inside or outside the House. The pressures of politics are urgent, pressing and constant. There is always a tendency to use that extra pressure to make a point. We should avoid making personal points, and I hope I have succeeded in doing so. Is mór an onóir domsa é a bheith anseo maidin inniu le dul ar aghaidh don phost seo. If I am elected, I will do my best to follow the Ceann Comhairle's guidelines and support him in the work he must do. All of us here have a role to play, and I will do my best to play this role.

Tá an Teachta Crowe tinn ag an uair seo, ach le cuidiú Dé beidh sé anseo arís sar i bhfad. Ba mhaith liom an Teachta Crowe a mholadh mar Leas-Cheann Comhairle inniu. Tá mé ag ainmniú an Teachta Crowe mar tá sé lán-sásta, agus tá mise lán-sásta, go mbeidh sé in ann dualgais na hoifige sin a chomhlíonadh i ngach slí a shásóidh Baill an Tí seo go hiomlán. Is Teachta Dála é le deich mbliana anuas agus tá a fhios agam go bhfuil sé lán-ábalta an jab tábhachtach seo a dhéanamh.

I nominate Deputy Seán Crowe, who is absent because he is recovering from an operation but who will, hopefully, please God, will be here before long, for the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle. He was first elected to the Dáil in 2002 and served diligently in the Twenty-ninth, Thirty-first and now the Thirty-second Dáil, representing the constituency of Dublin South-West. Deputy Crowe hails from Rathfarnham, but has lived for many years with his wife, Pamela, in Tallaght, and for many years represented the area as a member of South Dublin County Council. When the peace process was initiated, Deputy Crowe headed the Sinn Féin delegation to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin Castle.

He also represented our party in the multiparty negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. He is very experienced and he made a huge contribution to crafting these events and agreements which are now part of our history. Deputy Crowe has served as a party spokesperson on foreign affairs for a number of years and has contributed positively to numerous Dáil committees, particularly the Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

Teachta Durkan talked about never taking away anyone's character. Deputy Crowe has never done that in the decades that I have known him. He has gone about his politics positively, cheerfully and with some humour, but in a very dedicated and passionate way. I know that he will work to the best of his ability as Leas-Cheann Comhairle to the benefit of every Teachta here. I have no doubt that he will act at all times in an impartial and fair manner to everyone's benefit. I believe he will work closely with the Ceann Comhairle in the job of driving forward the reform of the Dáil and the Oireachtas generally.

Tuigeann éinne a bhfuil aithne aige nó aici ar an Teachta Crowe thar na blianta gur Teachta an-chothrom é agus go dtabharfaidh sé faoin obair go díchealleach, mar atá déanta aige thar na blianta. Beidh sé an-ábalta post lárnach an Leas-Chinn Chomhairle a dheánamh.

Molaim a ainmniúchán. Tá súil agam go mbeidh daoine in ann teacht salach ar na difríochtaí atá i gceist agus go mbeidh siad in ann vóta a chaitheamh ar son an Teachta Seán Crowe.

Is onóir agus is pribhléid é domsa go bhfuil mé ainmnithe anseo inniu do phost an Leas-Chinn Chomhairle don Dara Dáil Déag is Fiche. Tá taithí fada agamsa sa Teach seo. Ar ndóigh, tá mé ag dul ar ais go dtí 1991 nuair a toghadh mé don chéad uair. Bhí mé iontach óg ag an am sin. Is é seo an naoiú téarma domsa anseo. Tá an-thaithí agam, mar a dúirt mé. Feasta, chaith mé tréimhse réasúnta fada i bParlaimint na hEorpa, áit a bhfuair mé taithí agus tuiscint idirnáisiúnta.

Nuair a bhí mé i bParlaimint na hEorpa, ceapadh mé - b'fhéidir nach bhfuil fhios ag mórán daoine é seo - mar chathaoirleach ar an toscaireacht idir Parlaimint na hEorpa, an EEA, European Economic Area, agus an EFDA, European Free Trade Association. Bhí mé mar chathaoirleach ar sin ar feadh cúig bliana ag plé leis an Íoslainn, an Iorua, an Eilvéis agus Lichtinstéin. Tá taithí agam maidir le sin. Amach anseo, b'fhéidir go mbeidh an EFDA agus an EEA tábhachtach dár gcomharsan béal dorais. Fuair mé eolas forleathan ar chursaí idirnáisiúnta ansin. B'fhéidir ceann de na poist is tábhachtaí a bhí agam riamh ná nuair a bhí mé mar chathaoirleach ar Chomhairle Contae Dhún na nGall na blianta ó shin.

Tá tuiscint agamsa ó thaobh na mBuan-Orduithe, nó na Standing Orders, agus ar ndóigh ó thaobh na leasuithe a thugamar go léir isteach sa Teach seo le déanaí. Le bhur tacaíocht - tá sé sin fíor-thábhachtach - déanfaidh mé mo dhícheall na rialacha agus na Buan-Orduithe a chur i bhfeidhm go cothrom, go féaráilte agus go cruinn. I mo shaol poiblí, agus tá mé sa saol poiblí ó 1979, bhí sé mar pholasaí agamsa polasaí doras oscailte a bheith agam. Beidh mé breá sásta cuidiú libh, beidh mé breá sásta éisteacht libh agus beidh an polasaí doras oscailte sin agam. Beidh mé breá sásta labhairt agus éisteacht le Teachta Dála ar bith.

It is a great honour and privilege for me to have been nominated to contest the position of Leas-Cheann Comhairle of the Thirty-second Dáil. I respect and appreciate the confidence that has been placed in me in receiving my nomination.

This is my ninth term as a Member of Dáil Éireann, having been elected first in 1981 and then at every general election that I have stood in since. Over those years I have gained considerable experience of the workings of this House. I have also served three terms as a member of the European Parliament and, of course, gained considerable experience there. As a member of the European Parliament, I am honoured to have chaired its delegation to the EEA and EFTA countries, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and Sweden.

During my terms as a Member of this House, I have had excellent working relationships with all sides and all Members. I believe I can say categorically that I seldom got involved in any acrimony and I do not think I ever intentionally insulted any Member of this House. It is with this respect and appreciation for other Members that I will hope to guide the business of the House, if elected, and carry out my functions in a fair manner. I fully appreciate that the business of the Dáil should be carried out in a dignified manner and, if I am elected, I will do my utmost to fulfil that role, with the co-operation of Deputies, and to work closely with the Ceann Comhairle. I pledge, if elected, to be fair, understanding, balanced and accessible to all Deputies. I will take an open-door approach, mar a dúirt mé i nGaeilge. I am not canvassing for others but I believe that if any of the four is selected and elected in the House tomorrow, he will make a good Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I believe, however, that I have gained the requisite experience over the years and I would greatly appreciate Deputies' votes, whatever the preference may be.

While wishing the other candidates well, let me in particular send my good wishes to Deputy Seán Crowe, with whom I have served here for many years, and wish him a speedy recovery. Mar fhocal scoir, geallaim do na Teachtaí go mbeidh mé cothrom sna gnóthaí a bheidh á réachtáil sa Teach seo.

Members proceeded to vote in a secret ballot in the order directed by the Clerk of the Dáil.

Cléireach na Dála

As it is 12 o'clock, the poll for the election of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle has now closed. The counting of votes will take place today at 7 p.m.