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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 11 Jun 1925

Vol. 5 No. 7



The next item on the Order Paper is "Report of the Joint Committee on Standing Orders (Private Business) on the position in Saorstát Eireann of Bills relating to Matrimonial Matters (consideration resumed)." There is a motion in regard to this matter standing in the name of Senator Douglas.

Before Senator Douglas speaks, I would like to say that some of us desire to discuss this question on its merits, and I would like to know whether it would be in order to do so before he proposes his resolution.


I hope that every Senator will discuss the motion on its merits, but I think what you want to get an opinion from me on is whether you can discuss the main question as to whether there should be divorce a vinculo matrimonii.


That undoubtedly does arise on the report and motion, and I shall not stop a general discussion upon it if that is the wish of the House.

Owing to Senator Douglas's motion, I shall have to move its rejection in order to make the discussion germane to the matter.


That will give you an opportunity of enlarging on the matter.

It goes against my heart.

On a point of procedure, would it not be better, before formally moving the adoption of the report, to allow any Senator to speak on the subject-matter? The report deals in a technical way with the subject, and not with the main question, and it would rather complicate the whole question if the report was first considered.


I am entirely in the hands of the House. The motion is that the report be considered and I shall hear any observations that are at all relevant to the subject-matter of the report.

I think I was in possession.

On a point of order, I was going to move that the consideration of this report from the Joint Committee be adjourned until we have considered the subsequent motion which is on the Order Paper in relation to the report from the Committee. Under Article 27 of our Standing Orders, it is in our power at any stage of a motion to adjourn its considerations sine die, or for any period so desired. I think, and a good many others think with me, that it is eminently desirable that this matter should stand over until we have considered the report of the Committee which was appointed to consider the new Standing Orders which we are to consider this evening.


There is no possible connection between the two.

Under Standing Order 27 the House has a right to consider——


You have a right, Senator, to propose the postponement of the motion.

I move the postponement of the motion until we have discussed the other item on the agenda.


I think there is no authority for anything of the kind. There is a provision for postponing for a definite period, but not for part of a day. I do not think it is in order. I do not think that contemplates a motion of that kind at all. Your motion, Senator, is a motion that disturbs the agenda for the day. The Standing Order you referred to is a Standing Order which entitles a Senator to move, except in the case of a Bill, that the further consideration of the motion be postponed sine die or for a definite period, or that the Seanad proceeds to the next business. The purpose of that is to shelve the motion. That is not the object of your motion, as you want it to come on to-day. You simply want to disturb the agenda.

I am quite prepared to propose that the consideration of the motion be postponed for a week.


I am prepared to accept that motion if you move it.

I propose the adjournment of the matter for a week.

I second that.

Would there be any chance of coming to an agreement in regard to this motion? I know it is rather late to consider it, but I understand that certain Senators desire in certain contingencies to avail of the machinery provided under item No. 6, and that is the reason that they would desire this question to come on first.


That has never been stated. I suspected that myself, but I might call attention to the fact that no reason has been given for this motion at any time.

If this motion is carried, it means carrying the matter over till next week, when we will be full up of business. To-day we have nothing else to do, except to consider this matter. We are sick of this being carried over from one meeting to another. I suggest that it might be possible to take this motion first, without having a division on it, if there is no objection to it.

I might say that what Senator O'Farrell has stated is really the reason for this motion. It clears the air.


It is now stated for the first time, but it does not clear the air, because it shows plainly that the object behind it is to try and get behind my ruling on this divorce resolution. That is plainly the object of it, now confessed.

I am very sorry that it would appear so, but if you will cast your mind back you will remember that the previous agenda put this motion, which we consider helpful, in front of Senator Douglas's motion. The second agenda changed that.


That change was made at least a week before the motion standing in the name of Senator Mrs. Wyse Power was handed in. It was made at least a week before, so that it was in no way an anticipation of the motion. The change was simply, in my opinion, owing to what was the general convenience of the House, and to give full time and a full opportunity for a full and frank discussion of this divorce question. That was my sole object, and it now apparently is admitted that the only motive for disturbing the order of the proceedings to-day is in order to enable, if possible, this question to be captured by the resolution that stands on the paper afterwards, dealing with the question of order.

I would like to support Senator O'Farrell's suggestion that, if possible, there should be an agreement in regard to this matter. I would have to support the motion, if it is pressed to a division. I do not want, however, to have my motion discussed with any feeling of dissatisfaction. I want to have it discussed freely and on its merits.


The motion under discussion is a motion moved by Senator Bennett, proposing that the consideration of this divorce question be postponed for a week. That is the motion, and the only motion, before the House.

Question put.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 23; Níl, 10.

  • James Green Douglas.
  • T.W. Bennett.
  • S.L. Brown.
  • R.A. Butler.
  • Mrs. Eileen Costello.
  • J.C. Counihan.
  • Peter de Loughry.
  • Sir Nugent Everard.
  • Thomas Farren.
  • Mrs. Alice Stopford Green.
  • Cornelius Joseph Irwin.
  • Thomas Linehan.
  • Joseph Clayton Love.
  • Edward McEvoy.
  • James MacKean.
  • Edward MacLysaght.
  • W.J. Molloy.
  • Colonel Maurice Moore.
  • George Nesbitt.
  • Michael O'Dea.
  • John T. O'Farrell.
  • John O'Neill.
  • Mrs. Wyse Power.


  • John Bagwell.
  • William Barrington.
  • Countess of Desart.
  • Thomas Foran.
  • Sir John Purser Griffith.
  • Benjamin Haughton.
  • Douglas Hyde.
  • Sir John Keane.
  • Earl of Kerry.
  • William Butler Yeats.
Motion declared carried.


The divorce motion stands adjourned until this day week. We will now take up the next item on the Order Paper, namely, the report of the Committee on matters affecting the interpretation of the Constitution.

I wonder would this be the proper time for me to say a word on my motion?


Not now, because the whole matter has been adjourned. It would be out of order for you to speak on it now, but as a matter of personal courtesy I will give you an opportunity of making a statement this day week if you wish to do so. I desire to let Senator Bennett know that I have just been informed by the assistant clerk that the business for Wednesday next is not expected to occupy a very long time. Therefore, if this matter which has just been decided were allowed to stand over until this day week, it might mean that we would have to meet specially on Thursday to consider it. In view of the small amount of business for next Wednesday's meeting, perhaps the Seanad would agree to take on Wednesday the motion fixed for Thursday.

Perhaps the members of the Seanad will agree to take it to-morrow.


We cannot blow hot and cold with our procedure in that way, and I could not possibly allow a motion of that kind to be put.

I suggest that the motion fixed for Thursday next be taken as the first item on the Order Paper on Wednesday. If it were to be the last item on the Order Paper, we might not have a very full House here to discuss it late in the evening and that is why I suggest it should be taken first.


If it is the wish of the House, the motion will appear on Wednesday's Order Paper as the first item for discussion.