The motion which stands in my name was made in the hope that, in all the circumstances, it would not be opposed. As it is being opposed, it is not proposed to move it.
Election of Leas-Chathaoirleach.
Táim ag tairisgint:—
Go dtoghfar an Seanadóir Pádraic O Máille mar Leas-Chathaoirleach.
Dar liom-sa, líonfa sé an áit go maith. Más fear mór atá ag teastáil uaibh, beidh fear mór agaibh. Gach cáilidheacht atá ag teastáil ó chathaoirleach, tá sé aige. Tá an dá theangan go líomhtha aige. Tógadh é le Gaedhilg i gceart lár na Gaeltachta i gConamara agus níor leig sé meirg ar an Ghaedhilg ó shoin, gidh gur labhair sé an Béarla chó maith. Maidir leis an obair a bheas le déanamh aige, bhí príntíseacht fhada aige sa Tigh eile. Bhí sé ina Leas-Cheann Comhairle ar an Dáil agus, dá bhrí sin, ní dóigh liom go bhfuil mórán le foghluim aige i dtaobh obair an tSeanaid. Taobh amuich de sin, tá sé 'na fhíor-náisiúnach ó bhí sé 'na pháiste. Nuair a bhí troid le déanamh ar son Éireann, rinne sé a chuid agus ní ceart dearmad do dhéanamh air sin. Táim ag smaoitiú go nglacfa sibh leis an Rún gan a thuille cainte uaim.
Cuidím leis an rún sin go fonnmhar agus go croidhiúil agus aontuím le gach focal atá ráite ag Cú Uladh i dtaobh an tSeanadóra Pádraic O Máille. Gaedhilgeor ón chliabhán iseadh an Mailleach. Rugadh agus tógadh é i gceart lár Chonamara, mar dubhairt Cú Uladh, agus tá an Ghaedhilg ar a chomhairle féin aige. Os rud é gur chaith sé seal mar Leas-Cheann Comhairle ar an Dáil, tuigeann sé na rialacha agus beidh sé i ndon cúrsaí an tSeanaid do stiúrú mar tá cleachtadh aige. Da bhrigh sin, tá na buaidheanna go léir aige an post do líonadh go fuinteach agus go héifeachtach. Tá an gradam tuillte aige. Tá a fhios ag an tsaoghal Fodhlach go raibh sé ina thimthire do Chonnradh na Gaedhilge agus rinne sé sár-obair ar son na Gaedhilge nuair nach raibh mórán daoine ag cur suim da laighead innti. Annsin, nuair tháinic an t-am le troid do dhéanamh ar son na tíre, do sheas sé sa mbearnain bhaoail go cródha agus go calma. Ach ab é obair Phádraic Ui Mháille agus na laochraí eile, ní bheadh muid ag toghadh Leas-Chathaoirligh iniú toise nach mbeadh aon tSeanad ná aon Dáil, ná aon Uachtarán, ná aon Taoiseach ná Tánaiste ná aon tsaoirse againn. Dá bhrí sin, molaim go mór an tairisgint atá os bhúr gcóir.
Ba mhaith liom roinnt do rá i dtaobh na tairisginte seo. Táthar tar éis Cathaoirleach do thogha ó dhream an Rialtais agus cuireadh isteach é le votanna páirtí. Is amhlaidh atáthar anois chun duine eile, fear mór —mar adubhairt an Seanadóir Peadar Mac Fhionnlaoich—fear mór laidir poilitíochta do thoghadh mar Leas-Chathaoirleach. Faid is ná fuil go leor votanna againn is dócha ná fuil aon leigheas againn ar an scéal; ach nuair a tháinig an Seanad le chéile ar an gcéad ócáid agus nuair a bhíothas ag caint ina thaobh sa Dáil, dubhradh ná beadh aon bhaint againn le poilitíocht, gur Tigh gairm-bheathala a bheadh ann. Táthar á thaisbeáint agus á dheimhniú iniú nach mar sin atá ach a mhalairt ar fad.
It seems to me that this motion, combined with the motion we had on the last occasion, entirely disposes of whatever foundation there ever was for the suggestion that this is a vocational House, and that persons elected to it on a non-political basis would have any chance of making their mark in the House. This nomination was made at the last moment, at a few minutes to 11 o'clock on Saturday. I had hoped that, having regard to the functional character of the Chamber, the nomination of a person who comes to us from a vocational body and who had all the qualifications which Senator Mac Fhionnlaoich has just put forward on behalf of Senator O Maille, namely, an excellent knowledge of the two languages, a good knowledge of business and a thoroughly good national record, would be appointed. It would appear that that is not to be.
This House was at first proclaimed as a vocational body and in theory, the leaders of the Government Party in this House followed that out, even to the extent of saying they did not desire to sit as a Party, but rather by panels. One might be allowed to suspect that it is not by panels that persons are chosen for posts in the House, but rather by Party caucus. It will be no harm to say, on the history of this matter, that while no information could be gained at the informal meeting of the intentions of the Government Party with regard to the Chair, an official communication was made from the Government to the Fine Gael Party, saying that the Government had a nominee for the Chair and that the Fine Gael Party could have the Vice-Chair, if they so choose. In other words, the suggestion was made of a deal in which no suggestion of competency or a knowledge of Irish arose. That suggestion was, naturally, not accepted, and it was not accepted because we considered it was due to the character of the House that the Chair and the Vice-Chair should be filled after a different manner.
We now have the suggestion that a strong and active Party politician should be elected for the Vice-Chair and that seems to me to dispose entirely of the theory so glibly put forward that this was in any sense a vocational body. I suggest that the interests of the Irish language are not being consulted either, because if they had been consulted, a different position would have been taken on another occasion. It is not a moment in which one can discuss personalities, and I have no desire to do so, but I do think it would have been more graceful, it would certainly have tended to more harmonious working here and would have set this body on the road to more useful service to the nation, if a different line had been taken. For my part, I intend to vote against the motion.
The development that has taken place in this regard has caused me a considerable amount of regret. It has caused me more regret than surprise because I suspected that something like that would happen. Speaking entirely as a person with no Party affiliations and speaking, I think, on behalf of a large proportion of the members of this House, I had hoped that we should have, if not a Chairman, at least a Vice-Chairman of the Seanad who would be acceptable to all sides. There were many considerations in favour of the course Deputy Hayes and I urged on the Seanad. The position that arises now is that the real character and the real composition of the Seanad have been rudely and thoroughly emphasised right at the beginning of its proceedings. We were supposed to have a Seanad in which vocational considerations were to prevail over all other considerations. We were assured very virtuously by members of the Government Party that they objected even to sitting together as a Party. The unfortunate thing is that, once you get a Party complexion introduced into the House, that Party complexion, from whatever side of the House it comes, is altogether incompatible with any real or honest vocational character in the House. Whenever there is anything like an election, and, particularly, when the election is bound up with any kind of job, you might as well try to keep a cat from cream or a duck from a puddle as to keep political Parties from getting in. I am not speaking merely in regard to this matter but in regard to almost every matter that arises. Once there is an election, some political Party is bound to get into it and it generally makes a mess of it.
I think that it is a great pity those who sit on the Government side of the House have taken the course of action they have taken in this case. The excuse they have offered in private, at any rate, seems to be entirely flimsy. Because a deal was not made with the Fine Gael Party, therefore, they were entitled to claim both these positions—that seems to excuse one wrong by the fact that another wrong was committed before it. I put it to the spokesmen of the Government that they are taking a very bad course of action in respect of that matter—a course of action that will seem very bad in the eyes of the country and give the country a very poor impression of the new Seanad and of the manner in which it conducts its business. There are still a great many people up and down the country who believe in the loudly-paraded virtues of the Fianna Fáil Party and it will not impress those people, or the bulk of the public, to see the Fianna Fáil Party seizing for themselves whatever jobs happen to be going. We still suffer in this country from the gravest weaknesses. Parliamentary Government is still threatened. It is going to be threatened and any possibility of its being a benefit to the people is going to be menaced by practices of this kind. I enter the strongest possible protest against the action of the Government Party and I propose to vote against this motion.
I wish to associate myself with the general tone of the remarks of the two previous speakers. I have nothing against the Senator who has been proposed and I do not want to be taken as dealing with this as a personal matter. This is, I think, one of the greatest mistakes made for some time and it will react unfavourably on this House. We were given to understand that it was the desire of the Prime Minister that this House should be in as many respects as possible different from the Dáil. We find that the Chairman, having been chosen from amongst the nominees of the Dáil, the Vice-Chairman, backed by a Party majority, is chosen from the same type of nominee, and the persons in this House who were nominated by outside bodies are ignored. That is a strange commentary on the desire to make this House different from the Dáil. Further, I understand that there is a Government majority in this House—a Party consisting of about 32. Quite a number of Senators who were elected made no secret of their general political outlook but they came here on the understanding and determination that they would endeavour to act independently. They did not expect to have this House run on Party lines. It seems to me that, in a House of this size, for a Party of 32 to claim both the Chair and the Vice-Chair and to choose both from Dáil nominees, and even from the same panel, is inconsistent with the general idea of this House. It is not in any sense on personal grounds but because of the principle involved that I shall be obliged to vote against this proposal.
Ós rud é go bhfuil baint agam leis an gceist seo, is dóigh liom gur ceart dom an scéal do mhíniú don Tigh. Ó thús go deire, ní raibh an Chathaoirleacht ná an Leas-Chathaoirleacht ag teastáil uaim ach fuaireas leitir ó dhuine mór go bhfuil baint aige le Fianna Fáil á rá go mba ceart dom glacadh leis an gCathaoirleacht, gur mise an duine ab' oireamhnuighe don phost. An lá ina dhiaidh sin, fuaireas leitir ó dhuine mór go bhfuil baint aige le Fine Gael, ag rá an rud céana. Do scríobhas go dtí an bheirt acu agus dubhras gur shíleas na raibh na tréithe a bheadh riachtannach don obair agam-sa ach má shíleadar go léir go mbéinn oireamhnach, go nglacfainn é. Ach ba mhaith liom a chur in úil don Tigh ná raibh aon tsúil agam leis ó thús agus ná fuil indiu.
I wonder would it be asking too much that the name of Senator O Maille be withdrawn by his sponsors? I am a Party man and probably a politician of a very definite character, but there is such a thing as playing the game, even in politics and even by politicians. In the last Seanad, although those with whom I was associated had a majority, when an election for the Vice-Chair arose, due to the promotion to a higher sphere of the then occupant—some people might not think it a higher sphere—we allowed the Vice-Chair to go to the minority Party without question and without a vote. In view of the protestations of responsible spokesmen of Fianna Fáil that they desired to have in this House a body of persons who were not actuated predominantly by political considerations, it does seem inconsistent that they should now affix, definitely and emphatically, so that no one can have any illusions about their intentions, the Party stamp to the Chair and Vice-Chair of this Assembly. If they had any sense of fair play and if they wanted to impress the country that these protestations of their desires to have this House a non-Party Assembly were meant sincerely, they would not have put forward their candidate and, even now, they would, I think, in view of what has been said, withdraw his nomination. I wonder is it too much to ask that, in the spirit of the declarations they have made, they would now do so?
I have listened to the speeches made from what might be called the Opposition with regard to this proposal and I am really surprised to find so much confusion of thought. I cannot for the life of me see why because a man is a politician, he must be ruled out as a vocational representative. Every one of us has been elected on a vocational panel and most of us are politicians, but politicians are not such terribly vile beings as some people seem to imagine. I know that when a person has done with politics and looks back, he can say hard things about them, but most people will remain in politics as long as they are allowed. I see nothing particularly objectionable in politics. The confusion arises simply and solely from the fact that it was very difficult, being a panel body, and being a body selected on a vocational basis, to have any contacts which would be binding and such pourparlers, such preliminaries, as there were, were very indefinite and it was very difficult to get a definite understanding; but I am quite sure there was no tendency on the part of anyone not to play the game or to do anything wrong, and that the matter has not been considered from the point of view of filling a job. It was considered by us, and, I am sure, by most of the House, on the ground of the necessity for putting the best and most suitable man in the position for the sake of the Seanad.
I was the person who proposed that we sit in panels and that might have been very helpful, because we would get to know people whom we did not know before and who were selected on the basis of vocational representation. I found, however, that that proposal was pooh-poohed at once and by very responsible people on the other side, who, I thought, would have responded to it. One person must have some particular distaste for gooseberry tart, because he described that proposal as a proposal to sit as a gooseberry tart, divided into sections, and he would not hear of it for that reason. From the very beginning, the suggestion that this matter be dealt with vocationally was rejected straight away, and we were told, as Deputy Hayes will remember, that some of us were to go to the right and others to the left. I said I was prepared to go wherever I got a seat. The first day I came here I was late and I had to search all the other side for a seat until I found one not occupied and I took it; otherwise I would not have gone to it.
I submit that in this election we have put forward a man with a first-class national record, with the outstanding qualification of being a native speaker. The question of his Party alignments or associations does not at the present moment arise. He has had many in his day. He has had association with 1916, and he has had association with the I.R.A. all during the 1919 to 1921 period. He took a certain line in 1921 and went back on it afterwards, as a result of better judgment. To-day, if he is attached to the Fianna Fáil Party, that does not rule him out from being a first-class candidate for the Vice-Chair, and being a first-class vocational representative. I will certainly vote for him, because I know him and I know his qualifications better than I know those of the other man who is proposed, although I know he is an admirable man in every respect. The only thing I heard against him was the last time we met here, when he was proposed for the Chair, we were told he had no politics. I am distinctly suspicious of the man who has no politics. I am like the unfortunate man down the country who was approached some years ago by an organiser, one of the late Sir Horace Plunkett's people. This man, after elaborating his various theories, said: "Of course, I have no politics.""Then," said the man down the country, "you are a Unionist." When I hear this "no politics" stunt put forward, I always suspect something. It is no tribute to a man to say that he has passed through the last 30 or 40 years in Ireland and he has no politics. I am voting for a man who is admirably fitted for the Vice-Chair, and who has politics.
I never said that Senator O hEochadha had no politics. I said I was not aware, nor am I aware, of what his political Party affiliations at the moment are. I have a shrewd suspicion; I think he voted for Fianna Fáil in the last election.
Members of this House are going to find it very difficult to deal with some other members of the House attempting to distinguish between their position as Senators and their position as representatives of the Government. Senator Condon makes the matter more difficult, or suggests that things will be more difficult, for us. He suggests the approach in this matter of the Chairmanship and Vice-Chairmanship was very indefinite. When the Chief Whip of the Government Party approaches the General Secretary of the Fine Gael organisation and makes a definite proposal to him that the Government wish to have a particular person as a Chairman and, if that is generally agreed to, that they can have the Fine Gael representative as the Vice-Chairman—if that is to be regarded as very indefinite, then I can see a certain amount of difficulty in front of us. I say that in reply to Senator Condon.
Why I rise now is to say that I think it would be wrong that this discussion should end without the members of the Seanad generally being aware of what Senator O hEochadha, the Fear Mór, has just said. Speaking in Irish, he said that he wanted to explain the position with regard to the Chairmanship and Vice-Chairmanship so far as he was concerned. He said he was approached by a prominent supporter of the Fianna Fáil organisation, who suggested to him that he would be an admirable person to fill the Chairmanship of the Seanad in the new circumstances. He said that on the following day he was approached by a prominent supporter of the Fine Gael organisation in a personal way, and this man made the same suggestion to him. He replied to both of them, saying that he was very diffident of his qualifications to fill such an office, but if it were generally agreed to that he would be a suitable Chairman for the Seanad, if everybody agreed that they wished to have him, then he would have no objection to going forward; he would not withhold himself from being a candidate for the position of Chairman in these circumstances. I think it is only fair to Senator O hEochadha that it should be understood that that actually was the position. With regard to the remarks of Senator Condon as to the possibility that Senator O hEochadha had no connection with politics in recent years, I think the suggestion that has now been made is, perhaps, more unfair than the suggestions that, as the Senator is probably aware, have been whispered about of late.
I accept Senator Hayes's explanation of that matter. I understood his statement was that the Senator had no politics.
I trust my English is as good as my Irish. I made it quite clear in both languages.
That much having been cleared, I think it would be desirable if another statement circulated with regard to Senator O hEochadha would also be cleared up. That is the statement that is being diffused through the public and through members of Parties here in Leinster House that he is not a suitable person for the Vice-Chair because he attends Fine Gael meetings and takes part in Fine Gael councils. I want to say, on behalf of Senator O hEochadha, that, from my knowledge, and it is fairly complete, he never, under any circumstances, did any such thing. I think if there are any members of the Seanad who object to him on that ground, who make that charge or who are circulating that as a charge against him, we ought to have that matter cleared now. If there are members of the Seanad who have that charge to make against the person whom we have proposed for the Vice-Chairmanship, we ought to hear it now, in order that, whatever truth or untruth is in it, we may have it cleared, just as well as the other matter that Senator Condon now accepts as being made clear to him.
As one, perhaps, representing a minority here, I claim to have been elected to this House on a vocational basis and I make an appeal to the Fianna Fáil Party to try to let us be unanimous in the selection of An Fear Mór for the Vice-Chair. There has been for the last couple of months, as has been evidenced by the Government in their efforts in another way, an atmosphere of compromise and elasticity and give and take. There is a feeling through the country to-day, even since our last meeting as a Seanad here, that the atmosphere of the Seanad is expected to be bigger and broader and that there should be a spirit of impartiality and elasticity which is not perhaps, so clearly in evidence in the other House at times. I have been sitting with the Fear Mór in another public capacity for a number of years and I say here unmistakably that I have never heard him once, in the various discussions that transpired, giving any indication whatever of Party affiliations. I always knew him to take a deep and intensive interest, particularly in the language, and in everything else that helped towards progress, towards the national advance of our common country.
I am not standing up here to give an individual opinion on the essential qualifications of these two gentlemen. I am satisfied that they have all the essential qualifications, both from an academical and an administrative point of view, and also, as we know, from a national point of view. I am satisfied with that, but I make an appeal, as definitely representing here a minority, and as one who has been elected here on a vocational basis—I make an appeal to the Fianna Fáil Party to rise to the occasion and to meet the expectations of a great number of people in the country. I appeal to them to be big enough and broad enough and democratic enough to show their bigness by permitting the Fear Mór to occupy the Vice-Chair of this Assembly, and so prevent it from being broadcast that the Seanad has been definitely, after today's vote, stamped Fianna Fáil.
I think it is only right that I should do my best to clear the air and, if possible, to clear away some of what is definitely misrepresentation. It has been stated here to-day that attempts were made to reach unanimity with regard to the Chairmanship and Vice-Chairmanship of the Seanad. In that connection, all I have to say is that any attempts which were made, were made by certain members of the Fianna Fáil Party. As private conversations have been repeated here, and twisted about to suit certain members, I think it is only right that we should have the whole thing threshed out. Senator Mulcahy, I think it was, stated that the Chief Whip of the Fianna Fáil Party approached the Opposition with regard to that particular question, with a view to getting agreement on the Chairmanship and with the condition that if agreement could be got on the man who now occupies the Chair, there would be further agreement on the Vice-Chairmanship for a Fine Gael nominee. That is, as far as I know, how things went. He was not able to get a satisfactory answer. Another member of the Fianna Fáil Party, a man who has been associated with Fianna Fáil in the past, again got into communication with—I hope I will be excused if I call them the Fine Gael Party—and the reply he got was that Senator Mulcahy would do anything in his power to organise his Party to oppose the election of Senator Gibbons as Cathaoirleach. I take it his Party includes what we are now asked to believe are the Independent members of the Seanad.
It is quite untrue, and I hope I will get an opportunity of explaining the matter after Senator Quirke has finished.
I did not say I heard the conversation with Senator Mulcahy, but that is the report I got; that is my information, and I think it is correct. We were also told that people to the number of 32 took their places on the Government side of the House when, as a matter of fact, the people who made that statement know that we did our best—and when I say "we" I mean the people definitely Fianna Fáil, and I am proud of the fact that I am one of that number—to have this House a non-political House, and when we did our best to arrange that our members would sit in various sections by panels in the House, and when one of our members attempted to take a seat on what was known as the Fine Gael Benches, that member was told "I am afraid that you are on the wrong side of the House"—the wrong side of a non-political House!— and he was told that by an alleged non-political ex-Chairman of the Dáil. In any case, we will go a little bit further in this connection. We were then told—I think it was Senator Hayes who made the statement—that one of the numerous disadvantages he saw in the attempt to elect Senator O Máille as Vice-Chairman of the Seanad was that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman were actually being selected from the agricultural panel. Well, after all the talk we have heard about agriculture, both in this House and in the other House and at every cross-roads in the country for the last five or six years, surely to God it is about time that the agricultural community got representation in this House and that the fact that men were associated with the agricultural industry should not disqualify them from the Chairmanship or the Vice-Chairmanship of this House or for any other position.
It is not my sin, Sir. It is another man's.
Now, with regard to An Fear Mór. I do not think any statement that would be liable to do any harm whatever to An Fear Mór has been circulated, by any member of the Fianna Fáil Party at any rate. Listening to the speeches made by Senator Mulcahy and others, one would think that some member of this Party— apparently, some person accused of leadership of this Party or of this side of the House—made a statement that An Fear Mór was in attendance at Fine Gael Party meetings. I did not know that there was any such thing as a Fine Gael Party meeting in connection with the Chairmanship or Vice-Chairmanship of the Seanad. I know that there was no such thing as a Fianna Fáil Party meeting in connection with either the Chairmanship or the Vice-Chairmanship of the Seanad. The only thing I would say in connection with An Fear Mór is what I told him to his face on the day of the election of the Chairman. I have the greatest possible respect for An Fear Mór, but I told him, on the day of the election of the Chairman that I thought he was allowing himself to be used by politicians. I am glad that, to-day, he has refused to allow himself to be further used by politicians, and I would appeal to the independent members of the Seanad, many of whom are on this side of the House and many of whom are on the other side of the House, to watch out for the man who says that he has no politics. As has been pointed out already, it can be taken as a general rule that the man who says in this country that he is non-political is a Unionist. A man would want to be still more careful when he is approached by an alleged independent member of the Seanad who we all know was elected by Fine Gael votes at the expense of Fine Gael men who spent their lives, or the best part of their lives, in the service of this country. I suppose it is because they were associated with the national movement in this country during their lives that they now have to get out of the road and make room for the so-called non-political candidates, when it comes to a question of an election in the Seanad. That is what it comes to.
I crave the indulgence of the Chair in order to make a comment on the statement Senator Quirke has made. The statement that was reported to the Senator is quite untrue. I was approached by a person, on the initiative of Fianna Fáil Senators, with the complaint that, although the Seanad was supposed to be a non-Party vocational body, the hands of himself and his colleagues were being tied by an agreement between the Fianna Fáil Government and the Fine Gael Senators here to elect a Fianna Fáil Party nominee to the Chair. He had objection to that. I assured him that he could take it that we would not be in any way a party to tying his hands by coming to an agreement with the Fianna Fáil Government to elect a Fianna Fáil Party representative to the Chair here.
Further to Senator Mulcahy's statement, Sir, I want to explain that, as a result of numerous conversations, the people who happened to be for the time being associated with me decided that if any attempt, any sincere attempt, were made to get unanimity in this House, if the so-called Fine Gael Party—if they will excuse me for calling them that—would agree not to contest the Chairmanship, they would allow that same Party to get their man, unopposed, into the position of Vice-Chairman. A hurried decision was taken on that, and I happened to be the one deputed to approach Senator Hayes on the matter, which I did.
I shall tell the Senator when. When I approached Senator Hayes, my statement was as follows:
"If you will allow our nominee to be elected, unopposed, to the Chair, I can guarantee that we will not oppose your nominee for the Vice-Chairmanship; your man, An Fear Mór, is going to be beaten anyhow, and you might as well be agreeable about the thing and do what you can to secure unanimity."
Senator Hayes answered me in one word. He said "no." He said: "We want a non-Party man." He was prepared to use his friend, to use An Fear Mór, for no other purpose than for his political ends. I told him then that if this House developed into being a political House, he and nobody else was to be blamed, and I repeat that statement here to-day. I say that I and those associated with me have done our best, and will continue to do our best, to ensure that this House shall be a vocational House, to run this House in the interests of the country and not in the interests of any political Party. Senator Hayes, by his refusal, performed what I call the hoisting of the flag. Apparently, by his attitude here to-day he is determined to continue that policy. When a member of our Party went to the other side of the House, that member was told: "You are on the wrong side of the House."
Sir, Senator Quirke has made a special appeal to independent members, and as an independent member, and not as a non-political member—because I do not know that any member of this House could be non-political—but as an independent and non-Party member, I want to say that I think that the sort of discussion we have been listening to this afternoon is a disgrace to the Seanad at the opening of its career. What have we to do with all these bargainings and discussions and arrangements between political Parties and why should these political Parties come into the picture at all in the matter of the filling of the posts of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Seanad? I myself proposed that we should sit here, not merely in a non-Party way and not merely by panels, but that actually we should ballot for our seats and be mixed up even more than in the gooseberry tart of which Senator Quirke was speaking; but the fact that those proposals were rejected is no reason for embarking on the sort of policy that those who speak for Fianna Fáil in this Assembly appear to have embarked upon. After all, Senator O hEocadha was the first nominee for the Vice-Chairmanship, and the onus of making a case is on the objectors. Why are they objecting? Do they say that he is incompetent? No. Do they say that he is non-political? I do not know what they mean by it, in any case. Do they say that he is non-Party? We do not care what Party he belongs to. He was put up as a man who was not prominently indentified with Party warfare, and it seems to me to be extremely reasonable that one of those positions should go to such a man.
I have nothing at all against Senator O Maille. I have not the good fortune to know him intimately, and I dare say he is eminently qualified for the post, but that cannot get away from the fact that this business of selecting the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Seanad has been turned into a naked, shameless Party job, and I do not think the Seanad ought to stand for it. I appeal, even at this stage, as my friend over there appealed a few minutes ago, to the Fianna Fáil leaders of this House to withdraw Senator O Maille's name and let us deal with the question on a new basis on the next day the Seanad meets. For Heaven's sake, let us try to have this House conducted on the lines for which the Prime Minister himself appealed, and that is with a different attitude and different atmosphere from the Dáil—a House in which Party considerations will not take the first place. We are asked to say that because a man has been prominently identified in actual Party warfare with the Fianna Fáil Party he is therefore better qualified for the Vice-Chairmanship than a man not so identified. Why? I ask what difference is there to-day between the Fianna Fáil Party and the Fine Gael Party? Will somebody tell me that to start with? What are their differences of principle? I think we would be hard put to it to find them. I am sorry to be harsh, but I question very much whether this Party job would have been attempted, of putting two active Party partisans into these posts and putting in nobody else, were it not for the fact that they are both posts to which salaries are attached.
Senator Quirke rose.
On a point of order, Sir, is it permissible for any member to speak more than once?
This is a point of personal explanation.
Is it a point of personal explanation?
Yes. I am not quite sure, Sir, whether Senator MacDermot was here all the time or not, but listening to his speech I say that anybody would be convinced that he had just come in on the end of the debate.
Is this a personal explanation?
Surely not, Sir.
With your permission, Sir, I want to clear up this matter as far as I am concerned. Anybody listening to Senator MacDermot would think that I personally was the one responsible for this debate on politics, as he called it. Now, I do not propose to go into a political debate, but what I want to say is this, Sir: that if the day ever comes when I shall sit on these benches and listen to myself personally being misrepresented, or to the Party I represent, the Fianna Fáil Party, being misrepresented, without opening my mouth, then I hope somebody will take me out. The fact of the matter is that Senator Hayes and Senator Mulcahy made about 15 or 20 definite charges against me, although without mentioning my name, and because I stand up to refute those charges I am supposed to be doing something that I should not do in this House. With regard to the majority electing the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, which is considered such a terrible crime by Senator MacDermot, all I can say is that the day was too long in this country when the tail insisted on wagging the dog, and it is about time we had an end of it.
That, Sir, is about the strangest personal explanation we have heard or, I hope, we will ever hear in this House.
- Byrne, Christopher M.
- Concannon, Helena.
- Condon, Thomas.
- Conway, Michael.
- Corkery, Daniel.
- Farnan, Robert P.
- Gaffney, John.
- Hawkins, Frederick.
- Hayes, Seán.
- Hearne, Michael.
- Honan, Thomas V.
- Hughes, Gilbert.
- Johnston, James.
- Quirke, William.
- Ruane, Thomas.
- Stafford, Matthew.
- Kehoe, Patrick.
- Kennedy, Margaret L.
- Keohane, Patrick T.
- Mac Fhionnlaoich, Peadar
- (Cú Uladh).
- McShea, Thomas.
- MacWhinney, Linda Kearns.
- Magennis, William.
- Moore, Maurice G.
- O'Callaghan, William.
- O'Donovan, Seán.
- O'Dwyer, Martin.
- Nic Phiarais, Maighréad M.
- Tunney, James.
- Walsh, David.
- Alton, Ernest H.
- Barniville, Henry L.
- Baxter, Patrick F.
- Butler, John.
- Caffrey, William J.
- Crosbie, James.
- Douglas, James G.
- Doyle, Patrick.
- Hayes, Michael.
- Johnston, Joseph.
- Keane, Sir John.
- Kennedy, Cornelius.
- MacDermot, Frank.
- McGillycuddy of the Reeks, The.
- McLoughlin, John.
- Madden, David J.
- Milroy, Seán.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- O'Rourke, Bernard.
- Parkinson, James J.
- Rowlette, Robert J.
- Tierney, Michael.
- Twomey, Michael.
I accordingly declare Senator Pádraic O Máille elected Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Seanad.