Items Nos. 2 and 3, election of Leas-Chathaoirleach. Since Items Nos. 2 and 3 relate to the election of the Leas-Chathaoirleach they will be debated together, both motions to be moved at the commencement of the debate.
Election of Leas-Chathaoirleach.
That Senator Liam Naughten be elected Leas-Chathaoirleach.
First, I should like to compliment Senator Charles McDonald who for a number of years was a distinguished and impartial Leas-Chathaoirleach.
In proposing Senator Naughten I would like to refer for a few moments to his background in Irish politics. He has had wide experience of politics both at national and regional level. He was first elected to Roscommon County Council in 1974 and he was subsequently appointed a member of the Western Health Board in 1979. He was elected to the Seanad in 1981 and has spent some time here and has experience of the institutions of this House. He was elected to the Dáil in 1982. He was a member of the Public Accounts Committee of the Oireachtas for about seven years and, this should be very relevant in relation to the appointment we are discussing today, he was one of the joint deputy chairmen in the Dáil for a number of years. He comes from County Roscommon, like you, a Chathaoirligh, he is a family man from the heart of rural Ireland and I submit to you that he has the integrity to Chair impartially any issues that may arise in this House.
A Chathaoirligh, your county for a number of years has played a pivotal role in Irish politics. I would hope that, if my proposal goes through, County Roscommon will have a further major role to play and perhaps in future years we will have a meeting of this Seanad in Roscommon County Council.
Ba mhaith liom tacú leis an iarratas atá déanta go gceapfaí Liam Naughten mar Leas-Chathaoirleach agus mé á dhéanamh sin nil mé ag iarraidh an gort céanna a threabhadh is atá déanta ag an fear a mhol é cúpla noiméad ó shin. Tá a fhios againn go léir gur fear ionraic é Liam Naughten, go bhfuil an-chleacht aige i gcúrsaí cumarsáide, i gcúrsaí polaitíochta agus go mór mhór i gcúrsaí daonra agus sóisialta a bhaineann le iarthar na hÉireann. Mar atá ráite, tá anchleact aige a bheith ar Chomhairle Chontae Roscomáin, in a Sheanadóir, in a Theachta Dála agus tá mé cinnte go ndeánfaidh sé Leas-Chathaoirleach ionraic agus thar cinn don Teach seo. Mar sin cuidím leis an rún atá déanta.
That Senator Jack Harte be elected Leas-Chathaoirleach.
I am pleased, honoured and proud to propose the name of Senator Jack Harte for the position of Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Seanad. Those of you who have been in the Seanad for a number of years know this very well. There are a few brief items I would like to mention in support of his nomination.
Jack Harte came up the hard way in this world. He was born into a family of 11 in Dublin's inner city. He was born at a time when those areas were referred to as very, very poor and sometimes were called slums. At the age of 12 he had to go out and work to support his family. As young as nine, he was out helping a local carpenter with his work. At the age of 16, he departed to the Middle East and spent the next ten years out of this country. During his stay overseas he was given a number of positions of leadership. In that period he took up boxing both at amateur and professional level and, unlike many people who are involved in that sport, he has lived to tell the tale. He has also provided support and help for other ex-boxers many of whom have finished up in very poor circumstances.
He returned to Ireland in 1946 and became involved in the Labour Movement both at trade union and Labour Party levels. He is still active and it is now 43 years later. Throughout that period, Jack Harte has been loyal to those movements and it is one of his outstanding characteristics that he does not seek or covet the position for himself. Throughout his long career his first priorities have been the development of both those movements.
Jack Harte was the national organiser for our party for many years; he was the national director of elections for our party for many years. All of those tasks were taken in an entirely voluntary capacity; Jack Harte got no payment for that work. The fact that our party is now as strong as it is, to a fair extent, a reflection of and a tribute to the work that Jack Harte has put into it on a voluntary basis over all those years.
In the Trade Union Movement he has served as shop steward for 600 men. He was a branch chairman of a union branch which consisted of 3,500 people. He was a member of his union's national executive, that is, the Federated Workers' Union, a union of which, I am happy to say, I am also a member. He has been a delegate to its annual conferences. He acted as mediator to try to seek a solution when splits arose in the trade union movement. In Irish politics, Jack Harte is a healer, a man who seeks out solutions rather than one who provokes rows.
He worked in the trade union movement as a union official; for 11 years he acted as branch secretary for his union in Arthur Guinness. He has been involved in the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and he is proud to say that he knew young Jim Larkin for more than 25 years.
In later times he has been involved in the Seanad. He first contested a Seanad election in 1969 and from 1973 to the present time he has been a Member of this House. He has been the party whip here since 1973 and for the past 12 years he has been on the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. For the past ten years he has been on the panel of chairmen of this House.
In recent times he has scaled down his trade union activity; he has scaled down very many other aspects of his life but the one thing that has remained as a central priority is the Seanad. Over recent times Jack Harte has concentrated his efforts on his Seanad work.
As I have said, Jack Harte has wide experience. He has qualities of leadership and loyalty. In his trade union work he developed negotiating skills and picked up quite a bit of administrative experience. Those of you who know Jack Harte will agree with me when I say that he is the essence of decency, the old fashioned face of decency, and that is something which is very worthwhile in a world that sometimes tends to pass these things by.
It is for me a great honour, pleasure and privilege to propose the name of Jack Harte to be Leas-Chathaoirleach of this House.
I have great pleasure in seconding the motion that Senator Jack Harte be elected Leas-Chathaoirleach. I have known Jack for many years outside of this House and I believe that he is, of all people, most suited for the position of Chair and, in this context, of Leas-Chathaoirleach of the House. He has had, as has been pointed out by the proposer, the widest experiences in life that anyone could possibly have. He worked as a soldier, as a boxer, as a labourer, as a trade unionist and now as a parliamentarian. He has seen life at every level and aspect and every facet of the spectrum. He has come from the lower levels, with a sympathy for the underdog, to, you might say, the upper level in this House. In all his dealings I have found him a most dignified and fair-minded person. If there was one word to describe Jack Harte, it would be the word "gentleman" and that would ensure that in this office he would act with fairness and equity.
It is always very difficult to choose between two particular people in this House, especially when you have got the freedom to make that choice which is something which we on these benches enjoy.
I rise to support the nomination of Senator Harte for this post and I agree with everything the proposer has said, except possibly when he introduces as one of his great qualifications for this job his powers at boxing. I find that difficult to accept as a qualification but everything else mentioned is something which would recommend Senator Harte for this post.
It is a pity that the post of Cathaoirleach is always divided as one of the great spoils between the political parties and it is a pity that there seems to be a tacit understanding that the post of Cathaoirleach always goes to the Government and the post of Leas-Chathaoirleach always goes to the Opposition.
This is the first time I have seen a competition for the post of Leas-Chathaoirleach and I welcome it. I support Senator Harte for several very good reasons, but the principal reason is this: Senator Harte has been in the Seanad for much longer than I have and Senator Harte is someone whose commitment to the Seanad, and only the Seanad, is undisputed. Whereas I have no doubt that the other candidate, Senator Naughten, was and will be a very good Member of the Lower House, I think it is a pity, with great respect to you, Sir, that we are now proposing to elect to the second most prestigious job in this House a man who I think has only about six months experience in this House and so, between the two officers of this House, we will have someone with no experience in this House whatsoever, who may well do a very good job and someone with virtually no experience in this House. That points to one of the great faults in this House, that this job is given to people regardless of their past commitment to the House. I do not say this in any way to castigate or chastise Senator Naughten but I suspect that his interests do not lie in this House at all and that his ambition and his reason for being in this House is purely and simply to get into the other House. If that is the case, I do not believe he is the best candidate for the job.
Senator Harte has been here since 1973, for 16 years. His commitment stands for itself. His record, as I know, is second to none in the Labour Party and is second to very few in this House in terms of speaking, in terms of voting and in terms of commitment. I can think of no-one in this House who has greater experience, who has greater commitment and who has, indeed, served in the Chair of this House before. It would be a great gesture for Members of this House to forget their party allegiance in the election to a non-party job and to elect Senator Harte.
I would like, first of all, to place on record my gratification at the release of the Guildford Four and their visit to Government Buildings. In this context, I would like to compliment a Member of this House, Senator Mooney, on the work he has done over the past few years. Senator Mooney would agree with me that one person in the Oireachtas who deserves much praise is Deputy David Andrews for his consistent and committed support for the cause of the Guildford Four.
Senator Hanafin, with respect, we are dealing with the motion on the proposal for the election of the Leas-Chathaoirleach.
I show you all deference. I would not take issue with any Cathaoirleach and certainly not with you. I resent this. I am entitled on a motion on the election of Leas-Chathaoirleach to speak on any issue that involves Senators in this House. I have already taken advice on that matter because I did not wish to cause any embarrassment. Do I take it that the Cathaoirleach is silencing me?
I am just referring to the fact that we are dealing with a matter that does not include the subject matter the Senator was talking about.
I will accept the Chair's ruling, but I resent it. I am surprised.
Thank you, Senator.
I have some difficulty continuing.
I am not preventing the Senator from continuing, but the motion before the House is the election of the Leas-Chathaoirleach.
May I say that it did not take you very long to assert your new found authority.
I would expect you——
I do not expect it, I resent it. Seeing that I am not allowed to speak about the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six and pay tribute to a colleague, Senator Mooney, and the work he has done, and a colleague in the other House, I will deal with the position of Cathaoirleach.
On the occasion of the election of Cathaoirleach the Opposition parties broke with tradition. I warned that once one tradition was broken then there was the danger of another tradition being broken. That was not the first time tradition was broken. It was broken in 1973 on the election of Leas-Chathaoirleach. I remember that occasion well when Fine Gael supported Senator Evelyn Owen as Leas-Chathaoirleach. I remember clearly Senator Michael O'Higgins being particularly embarrassed at that time. He said that when it came to an issue or a vote between Fianna Fáil and Labour, he would vote for Labour. Those words stuck in my mind. There was heated debate and afterwards Senator Robinson asked Senator Lenihan, who was here with us as that time, what would he do in the event of a Fianna Fáil Government being returned and Fianna Fáil having a majority in the House. He gave an undertaking that we would not oppose the main Opposition party for the position of Leas-Chathaoirleach. I was committed to that undertaking because it was given on my behalf the same as everybody else on the Fianna Fáil side. Subsequently there was a vote and we abstained on it.
On the occasion of the election of the Cathaoirleach I alerted the Opposition benches that tradition was being broken. Now I understood why they felt they had to make a protest but I felt they could have made it in some other way rather than breaking with tradition, because when traditions break down in the House there is very little left to fall back on. Tradition is important. I have given no such undertaking to vote for the main Opposition party. I like to be fair at all times if I can. Perhaps it is because I am getting old that I like to be at peace with everybody. At least the members of the main Opposition parties had the courage of their convictions and they said "Damn the torpedoes: I will take all the risks of whatever you might do and I am going to vote." The Progressive Democrats did nothing.
After the last general election I was involved in discussions with the Progressive Democrats at the request of the Taoiseach but I had to withdraw from those discussions because of my anti-Coalition stance. I was later shocked to see the price we had to pay for Progressive Democrat support. Since then, of course, Progressive Democrat members have been speaking on matters of public policy completely outside their ministerial briefs. Again, recently we had a Progressive Democrat Minister stating publicly that he would not accept collective decision-making by the Cabinet on the issue of local government elections. In 1987 the Labour Party withdrew from Government when it could no longer accept collective Cabinet responsibility. That is the only honourable course open to a party or an individual who cannot accept the normal principles of government. I cannot understand how people could accept nominations to this House, which they have committed themselves to abolish. I might also add that I cannot help wondering why the Taoiseach did not nominate to this House somebody from the constituency of Limerick East. Many names were mentioned in this regard. Any one of them could have given great service and made valuable contributions to this House.
I respect both candidates. My vote was requested by the Labour candidate. I gave my commitment to Senator Jack Harte and I intend to honour that commitment.
I would like, first of all, to welcome some of the substance of what Senator Hanafin has said. It is important in a situation like this that there should be the element of a free vote. The really significant point is that there is a difference when there is a contest between two parties. Of course, a Labour Party Senator, unless there was some spectacularly compelling reason to do otherwise, would have to vote in support of a Labour Party candidate. What this vote is about is not a vote on a Fianna Fáil nominee so it would seem to me that it is only honourable to expect that the Fianna Fáil side of the House will permit a free vote.
I believe that it is wrong to give these kind of undertakings behind the back of the Seanad so that votes will be committed in advance of the arguments put forward here on behalf of the candidates. If this is a proper democratic Assembly, then surely it is incorrect to make this kind of binding commitment on a matter where the party is not so directly involved. I applaud Senator Hanafin's decision to commit himself to vote for Senator Harte, as I shall be doing myself.
I support Senator Harte. I have only had three years, so far, in the House. I have listened with great respect and great attention to a series of speeches from Senator Harte on a wide range of topics. I was slightly surprised to hear Members of the left talk about upper levels and lower levels. I doubt very much if Senator Harte found this flattering because he is the kind of person who to me represents the best elements of socialism, and this kind of rubbish about upper levels and lower levels of Irish society simply does not come into the argument. I have never contemplated Senator Harte's social background. It is a matter of total irrelevance to me, as I would hope my social background, such as it is, would be a matter of complete irrelevance to him. It is not on the basis of any of these pseudo socio-economic criteria that I will be casting my vote.
However, there is no question at all that Senator Harte does reflect a voice of the people. His is the kind of voice we have just been talking about on the broadcasting of Seanad Éireann. There is no doubt that Senator Harte's measured tones are the tones of a man whose voice will be heard by the people, that they will identify with a lot of what he says and that they will identify with the tone of voice he employs. I have been in the company of fellow Dubliners when Senator Harte's dulcet tones came across the airways. They said, "Well, begob, there is somebody I can agree with — a plain man talking sense."
This is the kind of thing that we need in this House, despite the fact that I think some of the compliments were slightly exaggerated. One would think Senator Harte had the widest possible range of experience of anybody on the face of the globe. Surely that is hyperbole. I suspect there are several experiences which I have entertained which Senator Harte has not, and I assume this is true of a number of Members of this House in different fields. It seems that to make so wide-ranging a claim in support of a nomination is to make it slightly ridiculous. I would not wish to join in the process of making, my exaggeration of the virtues of a candidate, the whole procedure of election ridiculous. It is for this reason that I am modifying my admiration for Senator Harte, but I certainly will be casting my vote in his favour. I hope that a certain independence of mind will on this occasion at least distinguish the ranks of Fianna Fáil.
I would have to say in conclusion, however, that to date I know nothing to the discredit of Senator Naughten. The reason I am voting for Senator Harte is because, as my colleague, Senator Ross, has said, I am not convinced of the degree of experience of Senator Naughten. In fact, I had to turn to Senator Ross and ask him sotto voce whether Senator Naughten had already been a Senator, because I was not sure of his degree of experience. It seems on balance to be considerably less impressive than that of Senator Harte. So, with no disrespect to Senator Naughten, I feel that it is an obligation on me as an Independent to vote for Senator Harte.
Agus mé cinnte nach dtuigfear agus nach scríofar focal a deirim ar an gcúis chéanna a luaigh an Seanadóir O'Toole agus mé cinnte nach mbeidh na nuachtáin, nó an chuid is mó díobh, ábalta pé rud a deirim a thuiscint, tosnóid mé as Gaeilge. Tá cúis an-simplí agamsa cén fáth go gcaithfidh mé vóta a thabhairt don Seanadóir Harte. Agus is é sin ná gur sean chara é go bhfuil seanaithne agam air, a thug an-lámh chúnta domsa nuair a bhíos an-nua sa Tí seo, nuair nach raibh mé ach díreach beagnach tar éis teacht isteach anseo. Nuair a bhí sé mar Phríomh Aire ar Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre sa Chomh-Rialtas thug sé tacaíocht dom. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil sé in ann fós cur síos iomlán a thabhairt ar an chabhair a thug sé dom, ach nuair a bhí tacaíocht ag teastáil, fuair mé é.
It is as Senator Ó Foighil said earlier, a disgrace that I have to translate what I just said. It is a disgrace to the Oireachtas. It is an offence to our Constitution and it is a singular let down to myself that one has to speak in two languages in order to ensure that what one says as Gaeilge is accessible to the population. Since I was saying something nice about Senator Harte, I would like to make sure that——
I would not like to think anyone in this House was prevented from making his speech in Irish.
Ní dúras é sin. Ach ba mhaith liom an méid atá le rá agam a bheith ar fáil ins na nuachtáin. Ón cleachtadh atá agam sa Tig seo, má labhrann tú as Gaelige amháin, bí cinnte ná scríofar focal dá ndeireann tú ins na nuachtáin. Sin an méid a dúras.
I have a very simple reason for voting for Senator Harte. I am beginning to realise as I look around me that, much to my own amazement, the number of people who have been in this House longer than myself is getting smaller and smaller. That is a matter of some dismay. Senator Harte is one of the longest serving Members of this House. He is also an old friend and an old ally on many an issue in this House. He was an ally of mine when he had the difficult job of being a Whip on the Government side. Precise details of that alliance perhaps could be outlined on a later occasion, when tempers have cooled somewhat further. On one particularly difficult occasion for me Senator Harte was a good friend and a good ally and, I may say, a good soldier. He is also one of the most distinguished Members of this House.
I was, like Senator Ross, a bit taken a back to hear of his involvements in certain activities that I would not be inclined to boast about. I know of all his activities on many other occasions. He is a man of adventurous spirit. He is also a committed Member of this House. He is hard-working, participates in all issues that are debated in this House, and has taken an active role. He is experienced. He is well regarded. He is well recognised and I think he would make a most eminent Leas-Chathaoirleach of this House.
I know Senator Naughten for a considerable period of time and I have no doubt about his qualities but I have on this occasion, without any disrespect to Senator Naughten, no difficulty in making up my mind to support Senator Harte.
It would not be my intention to make any comment at all at this point but it would be extremely discourteous of me if I were not to very briefly express my thanks for the gracious, if unexpected and undeserved, comments of Senator Hanafin in relation to any contribution I may have made in relation to the matters he raised. Suffice it to say "Thank you" to Senator Hanafin, for whom I have great respect, and to say for his benefit that one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life was embracing Gerard Conlon and Paul Hill in the free air of Dublin last weekend. Let us hope I will have a similar experience with the Birmingham Six.
On the question of the Leas-Chathaoirleach, it is for all of us to make up our own minds. My comments are not to be misinterpreted in any way as to the motives or actions of any Member of this House on how they vote or otherwise. Suffice it to say that I was elected as a Fianna Fáil Senator. Therefore, I have taken the Fianna Fáil Whip. Consequently, in a democracy one accepts the majority. Both Members of this House who are putting themselves forward for consideration as Leas-Chathaoirleach are known to me personally. One comes from my neighbouring county and I know him very well. The other is someone whom I have met through my membership of this House. Both of them, to use the Shakespearian accolade are honourable men. Both of them would be worthy Leas-Chathaoirligh. However, as a Member of the Fianna Fáil Party, I am accepting the Fianna Fáil Whip. I, therefore, accept the majority view. The majority view is that we abstain; therefore, I abstain.
I wonder if on a point of information——
Sorry, Senator, you have spoken already.
I would like to make one point. When I was speaking earlier I referred to Senator Michael Higgins. I was, of course, speaking about the Fine Gael Senator.
I would just like to say bhí sé ann i gcónaí chun tacaíocht a thabhairt dúinn. Go minic ní raibh an cúigear againn agus thug sé cúnamh dúinn. Idir an dá linn bhí sé ag plé Billí agus ag moladh rún, agus é i gcónaí, I felt, on the right side, and was always a man whose personal philosophy came shining through. He is a man for whom I have a great deal of respect. It gives me great pleasure to cast my vote in favour.
As probably the final speaker in the debate I would like to say, although I never see it as my role to congratulate previous holders of office, that it would be quite remiss of us at this time not to congratulate the outgoing holder of this office, Senator Charlie McDonald, who did an excellent job for his period of office. We used the occasion of the election of the Cathaoirleach to refer back to the excellent contribution made by the previous Cathaoirleach. I would like to put on the record, at least from my own point of view and certainly I know from my colleagues, that we have always found in our dealings with the previous Leas-Chathaoirleach that Senator McDonald indeed did an excellent job. At all times he was tolerant, helpful and supportive and showed a knowledge of procedure and an implementation of procedure which was always fair and honest. I think that should go on the record.
Finally, I would like to say that Senator Naughten, I have no doubt, would do an excellent job. The vote is something we can all anticipate at this point. Therefore, I would wish him well in that position. I would hope that he continues the good approach and traditions of his predecessor.
I just want to make a few comments. It has been the tradition in this House that the Leas-Chathaoirleach should come from the Opposition benches. In abstaining on this vote we are going along with the traditions of this House. Just because of some political aberration in 1973 Fine Gael did go against the traditions of this House but that does not mean that we should fall into the same trap. We are believers in the traditions of this House. We were sorely put to the pin of our collars to support the motion, or to abstain on this particular vote, because of what happened last week on the election of the Cathaoirleach. Let it be said that, if tradition is broken willy-nilly in the House, we will not be part of continuing what has been built up as a traditional method of working in the House in the future.
It is in accordance with the traditions of this House that we are abstaining on the vote for the Leas-Chathaoirleach. It does not give me any great pleasure to do so, in the sense that Senator Jack Harte is one of the contenders for this office. Senator Jack Harte, as has been said, has been a very great friend of this House and, indeed, has been a great friend of Members of the House for many years. I would compliment him on the gentlemanly way in which he has conducted himself at all times on behalf of this House and to all Members of the House. In particular, I am sorry that Senator Jack Harte did not get the opportunity to be selected here for the Chair today. As it appears Senator Naughten will be the person who will be selected as the chairperson, I wish him every success.
I would like to add my compliments to those of the other speakers for the work that was carried on on behalf of this House by Senator Charlie McDonald over a long number of years. He is probably the longest serving Member of the House at present, with the exception of Senator Hanafin. Senator McDonald did a fantastic job in the Chair when he was Leas-Chathaoirleach and I thank him for that.
On a point of information, I seek clarification from the Leader of the House as to whether or not the Fianna Fáil Whip extends to the three Progressive Democrats and controls their vote?
- Cosgrave, Liam.
- Doyle, Avril.
- Hourigan, Richard V.
- Howard, Michael.
- Jackman, Mary.
- Kennedy, Patrick.
- McDonald, Charlie.
- McMahon, Larry.
- Manning, Maurice.
- Naughten, Liam.
- Neville, Daniel.
- Ó Foighil, Pol.
- O'Reilly, Joe.
- Raftery, Tom.
- Staunton, Myles.
- Costello, Joe.
- Hanafin, Des.
- Harte, John.
- Hederman, Carmencita.
- Norris, David.
- O'Toole, Joe.
- Ross, Shane P.N.
- Ryan, Brendan.
- Ryan, John.
- Upton, Pat.
I want to thank my proposer and seconder and the Members of this House for electing me to this high office. I want to thank every Member of the House for his or her support. I wish to state that on all occasions it will be my intention to be fair with all Members. I have no doubt that every Senator will co-operate with me in this regard.
My political career in the Oireachtas started here in 1981. At that time I got to know Senator Jack Harte. I must say he is an honourable and distinguished Member of this House, a gentleman, and I have no doubt that, had he been elected, he would have carried out the function of Leas-Chathaoirleach in a very honourable manner. I want to compliment the outgoing Leas-Chathaoirleach for the work he did in that office, for the dignity he brought to that office and for the way in which he discharged his duties.
I also want to compliment Senator Honan for the way she discharged her duties as Cathaoirleach in the past and to congratulate Senator Lanigan on his appointment as Government Leader in the House and Senator Manning as Leader of the Opposition. Lastly, but by no means least a Chathaoirligh, I want to congratulate yourself on your election to office of Cathaoirleach. I have no doubt that you will carry out your duties in a fair and dignified manner in that office. I wish you every success.
I would like to congratulate Senator Naughten and to say that I offer him my fullest support possible. If he wants to vacate the Chair on any occasion and I can be of any assistance I will be available. I would like to thank Senator McDonald for his contribution not only for his short period as Cathaoirleach, and as Leas-Chathaoirleach, but for the courteous and tactful way in which he dealt with the proceedings of the House. Congratulations to him.
I would also like to welcome the Cathaoirleach, to the Chair. I hope it will be for a lengthy period. I say that with a little selfish interest as well as in your intersts. I hope that we will have a good period of time here in the Seanad and that everything will work out for us. I hope that over the years we can work in harmony that when we have arguments they will be constructive and that we will be genuinely concerned about bringing matters around to the way we think and feel and that we will do it in a correct and balanced way.
I owe a special vote of thanks, of course, to the people who supported me. I would like to thank each and every one of them. I have to say thanks to Senator Hanafin for the bonus. It was a very brave and wonderful thing he did.
In relation to running for the office, I would like to explain, firstly, that when I decided to run for this office nobody was in the field because I decided to do so on the day I was re-elected. I told Senator Manning on that occasion that I would have "a go" at trying to break the tradition. I did not know then that Senator Naughten was going forward or who, in fact, would emerge. In that sense, I was not in opposition to a person as such. I felt that there should be some means of coming up with a ratio of sharing that power. However, that is not the case. The Fianna Fáil people have nothing to be concerned about. They discussed this openly and frankly. I do not believe the wrong information which leaked out after their first meeting was leaked maliciously. I believe it was accidental. I offer my co-operation and understanding to them in that respect. I have to say these few words for my ego more than anything else.
From the start, even though I wanted to win, I respected my adversary sufficiently to know that it was really a David and Goliath situation and, as somebody who knows about frontal attacks, it could not be done by a frontal attack. I used all my experience. I have used the principle of the lever trying to use the lesser intensively to replace the greater. I tried from the flank, from the unexpected angle, the unusual, I even chose the timing a bit differently but unfortunately I did not succeed. I have no bitterness about that. I accept the decision totally. The sling-shot was no match in this case. I do not look at it as a victory or a defeat. It matters little to the true lover of democracy whether one wins or whether somebody else gains. I have gained a lot and I have had a lot of support down the years from both sides of the House. I would not be in the House if I had not been getting some support from both sides. My only regret now is that, because this is very likely my last term, if we go the three years, I will not be able to go around saying, "Do not forget the scratches". I will miss that. I have tried everything and done everything possible. I offer my sincere thanks to everybody who voted for me and who was tolerant of the pressure I tried to exert to try to win. My feelings with regard to the way they tolerated me are much stronger than words.
I would like, first of all, to congratulate Senator Liam Naughten on his election as Leas-Chathaoirleach. I know he will do everything that is required to make a success of the office. He will be fair, understanding and he will have a very special regard, I know and as you will, a Chathaoirligh, for those on the backbenches who frequently can find themselves somewhat squeezed out. He will do everything within his power to protect the rights of all groups in the House. In referring to the backbenches, I was not referring to the Independent group who do not suffer from that disability of being squeezed out.
I would like to pay a special tribute to Senator Jack Harte. He holds a very special place in the affection of all Members of this House and his speech, on what must be a great disappointment for him today, was dignified, gracious, generous and had all the characteristics of the Senator Harte whom we all know and respect so much in this House. I hope it will not be beyond the ingenuity of this House to find some special way in which the House can recognise his very special talents during the lifetime of this Seanad. I certainly hope that some such way can be found.
I would like to pay my tribute to Senator McDonald, the out-going Leas-Chathaoirleach. It is difficult to think, in looking at Senator McDonald, that he is in fact the father of the House, that his record of service goes back over 20 years and that he is the elder statesman of this House. For him, too, today must be something of a disappointment. He had hoped to be Leas-Chathaoirleach; he put his name forward for re-election; he lost and accepted the loss with dignity and generosity. It is good that we on these benches have Senator McDonald as an elder statesman who can advise us on various issues during the lifetime of this Seanad. I know he has a very real contribution to make.
I want to place on record my thanks to Senator Lanigan and to the Fianna Fáil group. Senator Lanigan was under pressure and there was a certain sense in which the tradition might have been broken. I want to put on record my thanks to the Fianna Fáil group for taking what must have been a difficult decision. They abided by this tradition and it is something which this side of the House appreciates. I would not want that to go unrecorded. Once again, I congratulate Senator Naughten on his election today.
I would like to say that I disagree strongly with the final comment of Senator Manning. I do not congratulate Fianna Fáil at all on this. I believe it was a great pity. I am glad the traditions are being broken. It is about time traditions were broken. I want to make one very important point.
The debate on this motion is concluded.
I understand that, but I am replying to a comment made by Senator Manning.
I cannot allow the Senator to do that.
With your indulgence, may I just make this point? There is a considerable difference between compelling your party to vote for a party member and compelling their silence——
I must ask the Senator to resume his seat. I would like to express my congratulations to Senator Naughten as a colleague and as a countyman. I have no doubt that both he and I will do our best to ensure that the quality of debate in this House remains at a high level and will progress in every respect. In that regard, we will co-operate as Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach to assist in every way possible.