We will pass from that and take up the next business on the agenda. The Earl of Wicklow has asked permission to draw attention of the Seanad to a matter to which he attaches importance.
SUGGESTED OPENING PRAYER.
It has occurred to me, and to a number of Senators, and I have seen references to it, and a suggestion made in the public Press, that it seems almost improper that we should begin our proceedings daily without any form whatever of public prayer, and no reference whatever to Almighty God. Surely there has seidom been a Parliament in the history of the world that finds itself more in need of Divine guidance than ours, and it seems wrong that we do not ask for it. It is quite immaterial to me whether any prayers that might be said are said in Irish or English, or in Latin, and it is equally immaterial if they are said according to the rites of the Roman Catholic Church, or the rites of the various denominations which exist in this country. I am only concerned that some sort of reference should be made at the opening of our proceedings to the God whom we all worship. I have been speaking to you, sir, about this, and you were good enough to think that if a minute's silence was observed, every Senator standing, might meet the case. Personally I would prefer a more definite form of prayer, and if that is so, I would most thankfully agree with it as something of a compromise. I think every House of Parliament, certainly in England, has definite forms of prayer, and actually has a chaplain, and I really do not see why in this country we should not be able to do ourselves just as well in this respect as the others. I do not propose any motion on the subject, but wish to get the sense of the Seanad upon my suggestion. If it is the desire that something of the kind should be instituted, I would be very glad to put down a motion later.
The matter to which Senator the Earl of Wicklow has called attention is one that has already occupied attention. The Speaker of the Dáil and I had a conversation on the subject. Senators will appreciate that this is a delicate and a difficult subject. Questions of this kind are always delicate questions amongst us. It was thought by him, and by myself, that perhaps the simplest and most dignified solution would be, if the Dáil and the Seanad were to arrange that at the beginning of business, all members standing up, there should be a moment's silence, and then each member could make what prayer he thought fit, according to his own belief. Otherwise, it might be difficult, and, as I say, delicate, to frame any sort of procedure that would receive universal acceptance. As to the institution of chaplains for the purpose, I am afraid, apart from the question of expense, that would also be a matter of very great difficulty. I think there might be a simple and dignified solution if, as I say, the Seanad at the beginning of the sitting, those present, were to stand up in reverential attitude, each individual taking advantage of the interval for any particular form of prayer he preferred. Perhaps it is better to leave the matter over, but it has not been overlooked, and probably, having regard to the attention that has been called to it, some definite course will be taken.
I am perfectly satisfied, and if Senators will be good enough to consider the proposal, at a future sitting we can again refer to the matter.
I am inclined to agree with the proposal, but I think it may be left for the Standing Orders Committee to discuss.
On behalf of several other Senators and myself, may I say we are greatly pleased that Lord Wicklow brought this matter up, as it has been in the minds of many of us. I hope some step such as has been indicated by An Cathaoirleach will be taken.
It is eminently desirable that whatever course is adopted should be one of universal agreement, and if Senators would talk about it amongst themselves and see what the prevailing idea is, we might do something useful in that connection. I want to mention that a meeting of the Committee appointed on the motion of Colonel Moore, and which consisted of a very large number of members of the Seanad, will be held to-morrow at 12. I now ask Senator Barrington to move his motion.