Fixing of Date for the Election of Cathaoirleach: Motion.

I move:

That the date for the election of Cathaoirleach be tomorrow at 2.30 p.m.

It is desirable that the Seanad now proceed to the election of a Cathaoirleach as soon as possible. I propose that a meeting be fixed for tomorrow at 2.30 p.m. for that specific purpose. This motion should not lend itself to a wide-ranging debate but, because of the interest in the matter, I am prepared to allow a debate to conclude not later than 5.30 p.m. If the House feels that the debate should be extended by half an hour that may be done at 5.30 p.m. and I would have no objection to it. In making this suggestion I am not attempting to indicate in any way that the debate be stifled; I do so in the full knowledge that a full ranging debate should take place. In regard to today's debate it is proposed that all speeches shall not exceed ten minutes.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Is the allocation of time proposal agreed? Agreed.

On a point of information, what has happened to the Order of Business on foot of which we were summoned here today? We were brought here today to discuss Seanad business and now we are being diverted by a further instalment of this soap opera. We should not be distracted from our business and we should proceed to a proper Order of Business.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The resignation of the Cathaoirleach must be dealt with first.

Yes, but I do not see why we should have to talk about that for the next three and a half hours. The man has resigned and that is the end of it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I asked if the proposal was agreed.

I do not agree to it. I would like to be recorded as not agreeing to this distraction.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator's discussion will be recorded.

All the Whips agreed to this procedure.

I would like to say to the outgoing Cathaoirleach a word of thanks for the way in which he conducted himself in the Chair. I found him courteous and helpful at all times and I know he genuinely wanted to pursue the programme of reform which had begun of late and which, I hope, will be continued.

We have before us today two verions of the same event, the version of the outgoing Cathaoirleach, Senator Séan Doherty, and the more recent version of the Taoiseach which we heard over the last few hours. Before deciding which version we believe, it is important to recall that what we are talking about is one of the most sordid episodes in recent history. What we are talking about is a flagrant violation and invasion of human rights. That was done not in the interests of the State or of the higher national interest but as a means whereby certain Ministers were spied upon. That was the purpose of the episode we are discussing today. The people who were spied upon were not criminals, potential criminals or subversives. They were Cabinet Ministers and working journalists of the highest repute. The Ministers had taken an oath under the Constitution to uphold that Constitution. That is the central episode we are discussing today. It was shameful ten years ago and it has continued to cast a shadow of shame over our public life since then. It is something for which the Taoiseach never apologised or acknowledged responsibility.

Nine years have passed and Senator Doherty has now made available his revised version of those events. We have to decide today who we believe.

Not only have we in this House to make that decision but the people of Ireland have to decide, and are making their minds up as to whose version of these events they believe. I believe Senator Doherty's version. I believe he was truthful when he said the Taoiseach knew what was happening and was truthful when he said that by implication the Taoiseach condoned what was being done. I believe the Taoiseach, in the short term, benefited from the information which was made available to him. What is very clear is that the Taoiseach, knowing what was happening, made no attempt to stop it or to censure the person who was carrying it out.

Over the past few hours there was a chance to listen to the defence put forward by the Taoiseach on the radio. It was not a convincing defence. We were told that this is another instalment in the ongoing move against him by groups within his own party. Deputies Albert Reynolds and Pádraig Flynn were singled out on this occasion as the main co-conspirators. All I can say is that it makes a difference from British spies, the normal people who are rolled out on occasions like this. What we got from the Taoiseach was the same old conspiracy theory, blanket denials and, quite honestly, it simply will not wash any longer with the people of this country. We got a character assassination of Senator Doherty from the Taoiseach today, all of that from a man who had been a colleague and a friend a few very short years ago. It was not a pretty sight and one which very few people found convincing.

I do not know why Senator Doherty chose this particular moment to do what he did, but I think I understand some of the reasons he did at last go public on his full version of the events. I find his reasons credible. What Senator Doherty has done is to sacrifice the highest office this House can bestow, he has sacrificed membership of the Council of State, he has invited scorn, ridicule and hatred upon himself and the almost certain expulsion from his own political party, and he may well have irretrievably damaged his political career. He has done all that and has allowed this character assassination in because, I believe, he wanted at last to tell what he believed to be the true version of events. I believe the truth of this matter has been welling up inside him for a very long time and at last he has put that truth on the record. In doing that, he had very little to gain. I believe what he said is true, in spite of a decade of cover up and lies and, indeed, many episodes which did him very little credit. I believe his version; the Taoiseach stands indicted before Irish society today. I believe he is unfit to stay on as Taoiseach, and that he should resign now. As long as this Taoiseach stays, the contagious disease in public life will spread its web of cronyism, strokes, deals and low standards in high places. It is time this Taoiseach went. The vast majority of people in this House and outside agree with me in their hearts when I say it is time this Taoiseach resigned.

He is not the only one who should go. Last week Senator Doherty let it be known that at least one other member of Cabinet, a Minister of the present Cabinet who was in Cabinet then, was also complicit in the telephone tapping affair. I call on Senator Doherty today to name that Minister and to let us have an end, once and for all, to the innuendo, the winks and the nods and the entire coverup. There are others who today are putting great distance between themselves and the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey. At that time they were among his most intimate and triumphalist supporters, people who fed his paranoia and power obsessions, people who saw enemies all round, people who created the environment in which the tapping took place and was condoned and became an acceptable way of doing political business. These people too should be named and they should be asked to pay the same political price the Cathaoirleach is today paying.

I believe that Senator Doherty did the State a service by coming clean. He has ensured at least that we can now get to the bottom of this whole sordid episode. The Taoiseach has only one final service he can do this State, that is, to resign and preferably call a general election. He must either resign or go to the country but he cannot continue to hang on. I know, and everybody else here knows from experience, what exactly he will do. He will clutch at every straw, use every device and stratagem to maintain his hold on power, irrespective of the damage to the public, to the public perception of politics, to truth, to human rights, irrespective of the damage he is doing to his own party and to the supporters of his own party who in their souls know what he should do.

On this strange day in the Seanad, I call upon the Taoiseach to set in train moves to set up the inquiry into the events of those years. That can be done, but even if it is done it is not enough. The Taoiseach must resign or go to the country. Those are the only options which the people will accept.

I am saddened this occasion has arisen and that today we are debating a letter of resignation from the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Senator Doherty. I prefer to address my sentiments to that letter and to Senator Doherty whom we know as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad.

He has been a controversial political figure practically all his life but while in the Chair I found him to be a competent Cathaoirleach. He was witty and quick. He had a flair for the job. I regret he is not here with us as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad when we should be doing our normal Seanad business, the Patents Bill and the other legislation. He is controversial — that has been his middle name for a long time. From time to time, people found it difficult to understand the man. He is a person of great charm, he is a good listener, a good debater and a good talker. He was very innovative on the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and many of the proposals put forward at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges for the enhancement of the role of the Seanad were his ideas. More than anyone, he was responsible for the progress made to ensure we will have a better Seanad in the future. May I repeat that I regret he is not with us. He has made the supreme sacrifice. Whatever role he may play in the future, whether in the political or private sphere, to wish him every success in that role.

In some ways this is a sad occasion. Certainly it is a sad occasion for the former Cathaoirleach. I respect Senator Doherty's decision to resign as Cathaoirleach of this Chamber for whatever reason.

I do not agree with Senator Manning that we or the people of Ireland have to decide which version of this story to believe. I am convinced the people have far more pressing problems on their mind at this time than to waste too much time debating, discussing and worrying about this issue nine years later. It seems to me to lack importance today. I do not know who is lying. I do not know whether Deputy Haughey or Senator Doherty is lying but I am not going to waste too much time making up my mind. Clearly one of them is lying and I believe we will never know the truth. I believe it will never be resolved nine years after these episodes. I think it is all totally irrelevant today and we should stop wasting the time of this Chamber this afternoon.

We should spend the time considering the massive problems we face. For the past six months we have had the "knock Charlie brigade", the "knock Charlie" campaign and while that has been going on from all sides this country has lacked leadership and matters of major importance have been neglected. The position is similar to that of a company that has no board of directors and no executive directors working effectively to run the company. Sadly, that is the situation we have in this country; we have in-fighting in the boardroom while the country goes down the tubes.

This House should address itself to the political malaise which permeates this country. This morning I heard Deputy Tunney in a radio interview say the politicians were not behaving in the way that the people of this country had a right to expect them to behave. I fully endorse that statement. The reality is that this country has lost confidence in politicians in all of the political parties. I do not think that it would make a very great difference to have Deputy O'Rourke or any other Deputy take over from Mr. Haughey as Taoiseach. I will go further and say that if we had an election and if we had Deputy Bruton or Deputy Spring as Taoiseach I do not think that things would turn out very differently.

What the people are concerned about now is not the events of nine years ago but about having a Government that will run this country effectively and will examine the massive problems we have. We have a national debt of about £25 billion, and that, with the other problems we have, leading to unemployment and to many social problems, is what should be addressed. Instead, what have we got?

We are in a hole and we are digging ourselves deeper and deeper into it. We are digging a bigger hole by increasing our borrowing for day-to-day items. We must declare war on the national debt. We must declare war on unemployment. We must put this country on a war footing. What sort of policies and attitudes are needed at a time of national crisis such as this?

On a point of order, a proposition has been put to us by the Leader of the House and it has not been agreed yet but it appears we are slipping into the debate. There are people with other points of view who might want to put down an amendment to the proposal made by the Leader of the House but we have now slipped into this debate without actually having agreed to take it. Could the Leas-Chathaoirleach advise me in relation to procedure?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We are discussing the proposal to fix the date and time for the election of the Cathaoirleach. I put the allocation of time proposal to the House and asked if it was agreed and it was agreed.

It was agreed.



What are we discussing now?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We are now discussing the fixing of the date for the election of the Cathaoirleach.

That is not the trend of the debate, I must say.

On a point of order, the rest of the agenda has not been considered so far.

What was done today was agreed by the Whips beforehand and it was agreed there now. It is somewhat out of order by people to come in and try to question that.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am calling Senator Hederman.

What we want is some clarification because there are motions of no confidence in the Taoiseach and in the Government.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The motions of no confidence have been circulated in the normal way and will be printed.

And they will be dealt with separately?

A Leas-Chathaoirligh, could you please tell me how much time I have left? I ask for clarification in view of the interruptions.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator has three minutes remaining.

Thank you, I shall not need longer than that to finish what I have to say.

I believe we need to put aside the kind of confrontational politics we have in this country, both in this Chamber and in the Dáil. I believe that if we were to ask the people what they want now they would not say they want an election because they do not believe an election will solve anything. We will have more of the same, we will have more of the political party bickering and in-fighting that has gone on both within parties and between parties. I think that what the people of Ireland want now is for their politicians, the people whom they selected to rule this country, to do precisely that.

While the political parties sort out the mess they are in, I ask myself whether it is not time for us to address ourselves to the question of a national Government for a couple of years at least, so that we can get this country back on to a stable footing, so that we can provide a future in ths country for our young people and give the unemployed hope that some day they will find a job here. If we look at those issues I believe that we would stop the practice that has evolved in the Dáil over the past six months when the country had no leadership and no proper Government. I ask the members of every political party to consider whether it is worth while going down the road we are taking and spending the time here this afternoon in an exercise which I consider to be useless and futile. We should now be seriously addressing the problems of the country.

It is sad that this debate should have to take place because a Cathaoirleach had to resign office.

At the outset I should like to say that I found Senator Doherty most helpful and courteous when he held the Chair of this House. Nevertheless, the issue that led to his resignation was precipitated over the past number of days by Senator Doherty himself when he lit the fuse on a television programme, "Nighthawks". His comments on the television programme left unanswered many serious questions. Since that date, Senator Doherty chose to hold a press conference last evening and he went further on the record by describing events in which he was directly involved as Minister for Justice some ten years ago. That, he feels, impugns him in his ability to carry out the role of Cathaoirleach in this House.

After Senator Doherty had appeared on the "Nighthawks" programme Senator Dardis and I said we were deeply concerned about what he had said and seriously questioned whether he was fit to continue in office as Cathaoirleach, even at that point, given the political input of what he had said on that programme. I am and have been convinced and have been proved correct, as have my Progressive Democrat colleagues, that that was an impossible task.

The reasons given by Senator Doherty for his resignation as Cathaoirleach led to a response from the Taoiseach at lunchtime today. The Taoiseach's response completely contradicts what Senator Doherty claimed occurred during what is euphemistically called the "phone tapping affair" of several years ago.

Obviously, that presents a serious problem to all of us in the House and, indeed, to the public at large.

It is fair to say at the outset that it is, first and foremost, a problem for the Fianna Fáil Party. Once again they have an internal problem with two completely differing opinions as to what occurred in the past. It is a matter on which I would expect the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party to meet if not now, certainly this afternoon, to have a full discussion and decide for themselves who to believe in this matter. If they do not meet today or this evening it will be a great surprise to me, to my colleagues and to my party. It is a most grave matter particularly for Fianna Fáil. First and foremost they must decide who is telling the truth. I will not make any pronouncements at present either on my own behalf or that of my party. I would rather leave our colleagues in Government the time to have their own parliamentary meeting and make a decision without putting them in a particular corner.

The telephone tapping Bill, referred to by Senator Doherty, has been on public record as Progressive Democrats policy since the foundation of the party. It was not pursued by the Progressive Democrats, either in or out of Government, to pillory Senator Doherty or any other individual. That suggestion is incorrect and does not do justice to the worth of the proposed telephone tapping Bill. Unlike the previous Coalition Government, who had the same matter in hand but did not bring it to a legislative conclusion, this Government are determined to do so. I am proud that that has been my party's public position both in Opposition and in Government.

The contents of that Bill are recognised not alone by all Members of this House but by all Members of the Dáil as being beneficial in setting out more stringent and specific guidelines on how those procedures could be carried out legally so that justice will be seen to be done. It was wrong of Senator Doherty to suggest that it was to pursue him personally that the Progressive Democrats wanted to see this Bill enacted. I do not believe for one minute that anybody inside or outside this House believes that. It is in the national interest that that Bill be enacted.

This is regrettable when we are approaching budget day and have reached agreement on the Programme for Economic and Social Progress with the social partners. It was because of the goodwill generated by workers not pursuing strikes that agreement has been reached between the Government and the social partners, setting a solid foundation for necessary job creation. This Government and the Progressive Democrats' participation in it have clearly always been policy driven. That is our aim. We want to see a reduction in the serious levels of unemployment. Unfortunately these matters divert our attention from the urgent and pressing matters that concern the majority of the people. Nevertheless, they have to be faced up to. It is up to our partners in Government to face this matter this afternoon and choose for themselves who in their own party to believe.

For the record, the Progressive Democrats did not support the nomination of Senator Doherty as Cathaoirleach in this House. We had grave reservations at the time and those reservations have now been borne out. We also opposed and voted against Senator Doherty on a motion of no confidence. The Progressive Democrats' track record in this House is clear and unequivocal and we have been proved to be correct.

Seeing you did not want to be here in the first place.

Since the Senator is unclear as to what we are debating——

You voted for him.

I will speak for myself, Senator Norris, at any time.


I do not need you or any of your colleagues to put the record straight on my behalf or on behalf of any of my colleagues. The record speaks for itself and it is accurate.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I ask Senator Cullen to address the Chair.

The Progressive Democrats are anxious to see this matter resolved. We are anxious that our partners in Government should look at it themselves, that they should come to a conclusion and make that conclusion public, and hopefully that will allow for continued excellence in Government in the national interest. That is what is required and what we hope to see happening.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Before I call the next speaker, I am sure Members will join with me in extending a very warm welcome to a former Leas-Chathaoirleach, Mr. Pat Lindsay.

Senator Doherty has done the proper thing in resigning. It is essential that the office of Cathaoirleach should not be damaged or compromised. The developments of last evening and today would certainly have damaged the House and the office of Cathaoirleach if Senator Doherty had remained on in that position.

He has acted properly in resigning even if the manner of his going has plunged this Government and Fianna Fáil into disarray. The protection of this House and the protection of the office of Cathaoirleach, one of the great institutions of the State, is more important than any turbulence Fianna Fáil or the Government will have to endure as a result of what happened. If the resolution of that turbulence, of the problems we are now experiencing, demands that a general election be held, so be it. I would welcome such a development.

In relation to Senator Doherty personally and the manner in which he conducted his business as Cathaoirleach, my experience has been that he was fair and courteous to me and my party, the Labour Party. The telephone tapping incidents of the early eighties which have caused this problem were appalling by any standards. They were an invasion of privacy; they were an invasion of the human rights of two journalists who were doing their jobs. It was worthy that those journalists had the opportunity to vindicate their names in the courts but it was dreadful that they were forced to take this action to clear their names.

The question now is, who is to be believed? There is a direct conflict between the statement of Senator Doherty last night and the statements made by the Taoiseach this afternoon at his press conference. Clearly one or both of these people is telling lies. This is the second occasion where the Taoiseach has been involved in a situation like this. Mr. Justice Henchy claimed that the Taoiseach or another former Minister perjured themselves during a court case. I repeat, this is the second occasion Deputy Haughey has found himself in this position in relation to whether he is telling the truth.

There is one point in particular to which I want to draw the attention of the House in relation to the statement issued by Senator Doherty last night. It relates to the last paragraph which is as follows:

Each and every one of these relevant transcripts were transported by me to Mr. Haughey's office and handed to him directly. He retained all but one of them making no comment on their content.

I would like to know what has become of the transcript which the Taoiseach did not retain. I ask Senator Doherty to clarify this matter, to tell us what became of it. I cannot help wondering if the contents of that transcript are not another powder keg which we will find exploding on our television screens on the news at 9 p.m. in the months ahead. I would welcome if Senator Doherty let us know what has become of the transcript he says the Taoiseach did not retain. The Taoiseach seems to have inferred that the tapes were given to him by Senator Doherty over a period of time. A careful reading of Senator Doherty's statement would indicate that that was not in it.

I come now to the position of the Progressive Democrats. Following the statement by Senator Cullen I should like to ask what is the position of the Progressive Democrats now? Senator Cullen was correct in stating that his party did not vote for Senator Doherty when the election of Cathaoirleach took place and did not vote confidence in Senator Doherty when the motion of no confidence in him as Cathaoirleach of this House was taken. However, they voted confidence in the Taoiseach and they voted to put him into office. I repeat the Taoiseach is now in that 50:50 situation with Senator Doherty in relation to who should be believed.

I am somewhat puzzled in relation to the conducting of the business this afternoon. It certainly is a change and, to some extent, that is understandable. I propose that the Labour Party motion of no confidence in the Taoiseach which has been tabled be taken at the end of this debate. If that is not possible, and if it is not in accord with Standing Orders, I will move that the motion be taken at the earliest opportunity. I will be proposing that the motion be taken if we have what could be called an old fashioned Order of Business later this evening when this debate concludes.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I clarified that when I said that the motion was circulated but not printed. It will be printed on the Order Paper tonight.

The business we are discussing has been dragging on and on. In some ways it has been going on since Deputy Haughey entered Irish politics but certainly it has been at an acute phase for the past ten years or so.

In the national interest the matter should be resolved now. A recurring stench of corruption and a recurring smell of sharp practice has emerged which is just as horrible and repulsive as it was when it first appeared nine or ten years ago. The Irish people demand that the ghosts of GUBU be exorcised once and for all. The only way that can be done is by the resignation of the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey. In many ways what we have seen in the past 24 hours is a pathetic farce which is turning this country with all its problems into a laughing stock. In any other country the politicians would be facing up to the real issues and would not be involved in this type of turmoil. The Taoiseach has been rendered incredible by the statements made last night. He is mortally wounded politically and I cannot see him recovering. It is in all our interests, and in the national interest, that he should go immediately.

I join with other Members in expressing my regret that the Cathaoirleach has had to resign. Senator Doherty was an excellent Cathaoirleach. I admired the calm way in which he handled the business of this House. Many pious platitudes have been expressed today. I feel sorry for Senator Doherty if he is depending on the sympathy, understanding, co-operation and help of those who have consistently tried to make it difficult for him to chair the proceedings in this House. While he was Cathaoirleach his rulings were challenged, were the subject of a High Court case——

Hear, hear. That was a very good thing too.

I have never interrupted Senator Norris.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator McGowan to continue without interruption.

The Senator is always interrupting.

Some Members keep themselves in the public eye by interrupting on the Order of Business and by raising current topics whether they are in order or not. I will not name them in the hope that we will have harmony. I try to practice what I preach in the House.

Will the Senator tell us about who he is talking?

I will not respond to that. I hope Senator Doherty has a future that does not depend on the crocodile tears coming from the Opposition side. His future will not be great if he is depending on those who are now expressing sympathy for him and saying how great he was. If he is it would be better for him to bow out. I take with a pinch of salt all the groans, moans, regrets and the expressions of sorrow which came from the Opposition side of the House. All they are doing is using Senator Doherty and the Seanad to knife the leader of our party. Senator Upton was honest when he said they had only one goal. Fianna Fáil have been in the enviable position of being able to elect a Taoiseach, even with the help of the Progressive Democrats. It is not surprising people are envious when one is a fragment of a party that will never be part of anything other than an arrogant group of right wingers. That is what they are. They are going nowhere and they have nothing to contribute.

Will Senator McGowan tell us about whom he is talking? He is looking over my shoulder.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator McGowan to continue without interruption.

I am not looking in Senator Ryan's direction because he told this House he came from good Fianna Fáil stock. I am not looking in his direction.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I ask Senator McGowan to address the motion before the House.

This is the first time I have ever been called a right winger.

I sincerely hope that when a Cathaoirleach resigns we will fill the vacancy in an orderly manner. We should get on with the election of a Cathaoirleach. I agree with Senator Hederman that we spend much time complaining that we are not efficient. We should elect a Cathaoirleach and get on with our business. I came in here today intending to raise the slaughter of workmen in the North of Ireland. Due to the change in the Order of Business to permit the election of a Cathaoirleach, I am deprived from raising a fundamental matter. I am an Ulsterman who is concerned about workmen who were slaughtered in the North of Ireland.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

That is not relevant to this debate. The Order of Business will be dealt at the end of this debate.

I agree there is urgent business to be dealt with. Before the House adjourns tomorrow I expect I will have an opportunity to raise matters of fundamental importance in the part of the country I represent. I would like to see this debate continue in a harmonious manner. It is my wish that we will have no difficulty in electing a Cathaoirleach tomorrow and that we will proceed to run an orderly Seanad. I regret Senator Doherty is no longer Cathaoirleach but his decision was taken voluntarily. We should get on with our business and practice what we preach.

At the outset of this discussion on the motion concerning the election of a new Cathaoirleach of the Seanad tomorrow, I would like to offer my thanks to the outgoing Cathaoirleach, Seanator Seán Doherty, for the way he handled matters in this House and for his efforts to be impartial at all times. There is no doubt that he has been the author of his own misfortune. I have a particular difficulty addressing the topic before us because I do not believe either the outgoing Cathaoirleach or the Taoiseach even though there are elements of truth in that both of them have said. There is a great deal of creative accounting in the way they have put forward their own views and the truth lies somewhere between both versions. I agree with those who say that we will probably never get to the bottom of it.

Last night Senator Doherty outlined the case as he saw it, of the phone tapping of nine years ago. He said "firstly, the Government was concerned about leaks of confidential material from the Cabinet". It has been said, and I agree, that every Government are concerned about leaks; "secondly, it was my job to have these leaks investigated"; that is a statement of fact; it was his job to investigate them; and "thirdly I did not come up with the idea. I took the best advice available to me, tapping was the recommended action". He stated specifically that he had sought the advice of the Deputy Garda Commissioner, Mr. Joe Ainsworth, who was then head of security and "communicated to him the concern of members of the Government and my own concern. Mr. Ainsworth agreed that the leaks were posing a national problem ...and recommended the option of tapping the phone of journalist Bruce Arnold." Therefore, when Senator Doherty referred last night to the best advice available, he was referring to the advice of Mr. Ainsworth. He stated that specifically.

He went on to say "fourthly, I signed an official Garda warrant to authorise such activity and finally, I showed the head of Government the results of the tapping". In everything Senator Doherty said last night there is no indication that the matter was brought to Cabinet for the stamp of approval before phone tapping was initiated or put in place. If one reads very carefully what Senator Doherty actually said last night, one will see there is no contradiction because all he said was that the Cabinet were originally concerned about leaks and that he came back to Cabinet some time later with the results of the phone tapping. There is no indication that the Cabinet discussed it in the interim or if either they or the Taoiseach officially knew what was going on.

Let us now look at what the Taoiseach said today. He stated, and I quote from the transcript of his lunch time press interview, "I want to make it crystal clear that the Government as such and I, as Taoiseach, knew absolutely nothing about any activities of this sort and would not countenance any such abuse". We will leave the last reference to one side for a moment. He went on to say "the Government minutes and records of discussions at Cabinet contain no reference whatsoever to any phone-tapping: and persons who were members of the Government at the time have confirmed that they have no recollection of any reference to the subject".

One can reconcile much of the Taoiseach's statement today and that of Senator Doherty yesterday. The real difficulty is that I do not believe C.J. Haughey did not know what was going on. The Taoiseach officially was not told, the Cabinet officially were not told, but I for one would take a heavy bet that C.J. Haughey knew what was going on There are no records officially anywhere to show that he knew, of course there is not; it would be the nod and the wink and the fixer syndrome at work again.

Could anyone tell me, given our parliamentary system, that the permanent Government would not have dropped it to the Taoiseach's private secretary or his main advisers if the advisers or the civil servants in the Department of Justice, thought for one moment that Senator Seán Doherty was not going to tell the Taoiseach? Those of us who have some little experience of Government even at junior ministerial level, know they know what we have for our breakfast, and rightly so, because they are there to do a job for the country. Everyone right through the system knows exactly what is happening. The message was definitely passed at permanent Government level. I accept that officially it may not have been given to C J as Taoiseach, but he knew it as C.J. Haughey and I will stand over that any day.

Why did Senator Seán Doherty rake over the old coals now? It is obviously a three item agenda. There is obviously much to be gained from going back to Roscommon as a martyr, as I am sure the Acting Chairman is only too well aware. He is already a type of folk hero there. I hope, however, the people will open their eyes and see this for what it is. We have known for many months now of the tragic scandals which have portrayed our country as a corrupt democracy. We are the laughing stock of the international community, financial and otherwise, and they are looking for the next instalment of the national Irish pantomime at this stage.

Through all this we have known of the ongoing push and shove in terms of the leadership within Fianna Fáil. Obviously, Roscommon is number one on the hidden agenda of Senator Seán Doherty; second is the leadership of Fianna Fáil — I will not try to analyse it myself as I will probably get it wrong.

The third point — and perhaps the one which prompted this disclosure at this stage — is the forthcoming phone tapping Bill to be initiated in the Seanad in a couple of weeks time. It has been reported that the present Minister for Justice, Deputy Burke, and Senator Seán Doherty had strong words in recent times about the initiation of this legislation and that Senator Doherty felt he had been let down having, in his own words, carried the can for them on this issue for so long.

If Senator Doherty is telling the truth now he must have perjured himself during the Supreme Court inquiry. If that is so it must be investigated. If Senator Doherty is lying now and the Taoiseach is telling the truth, I expect the Taoiseach to take an action for defamation of character against Senator Doherty. Anything less would not be strong enough evidence that the Taoiseach's version is true. We await the next move.

The Taoiseach was acting Minister for Justice for three weeks during Senator Seán Doherty's reign as Minister for Justice. Anyone who knows how the Department of Justice work knows that the Minister for Justice or the acting Minister for Justice gets a daily and weekly intelligence report from his or her officials. As acting Minister for Justice, the Taoiseach, C J Haughey, would have received daily and weekly intelligence reports. Therefore, I do not accept that he would not have heard quite clearly from the Civil Service and public service what was going on.

Let us not forget that during this time the then Minister Ray MacSharry was bugging or, to put it more correctly, tape recording a fellow Cabinet colleague's phone calls, those of Mr. O'Donoghue. This type of syndrome was pervasive in the Cabinet at the time. I suppose nobody knew that was going on. However Ray MacSharry taped a colleague's phone calls; I expect that will be the next story.

My colleague, Senator Manning, has very succinctly put the case for Fine Gael. He pointed out the violation of human rights which took place during that time. It is a tragedy in this day and age when we are full and equal members of the European Community and the OECD a developed western democracy, that we, in the Upper Chamber of Parliament, rightly accuse a Government of a few short years ago of violating human rights in operating the democratic system. I thought we had abandoned the banana republic syndrome long ago. This is a tragedy for all of us because all of us, as public representatives, will find ourselves tarred to some extent and trying to defend democracy, particularly to the young who have become so cynical about the comings and goings in these Houses, and particularly in the Lower House, over the past few months.

My colleague, Senator Manning, has put the only two options: either the Taoiseach must go or we need a general election. Frankly, we need the cleansing. I know we will be told the public have no appetite for a general election, but sometimes we have to take medicine when we do not like it; sometimes even the public good can be served by something they do not like. We have to be very cool and calm in deciding what the next step should be. I await with interest the response of the Progressive Democrats particularly in relation to what has happened.

On a personal note, I would again like to thank Senator Seán Doherty and to wish him and his wife, Maura, and family all the best during the next few days and weeks through what must be for him a personal agony.

It is my view and that of my party that the Cathaoirleach, Senator Doherty, has done the right thing by resigning his office. It is our view that it would have become impossible, under Senator Doherty's continuing chairmanship, to conduct the business of this House with any degree of impartiality and authority. That authority was damaged even before last night. As has been explained by my colleague, Senator Cullen, the Progressive Democrats abstained in the original vote to elect Senator Doherty as Cathaoirleach on the basis that we had serious reservations as to his capacity to be fair and even-handed in chairing the House. At the time, we were aware of our responsibilities to our Coalition partners and that is why we abstained rather than voting against.

We subsequently, as the House is aware, supported a motion to remove the Cathaoirleach from office. We did so because information had been withheld by him from the Committee on Procedure and Privileges of which I am a member. That information had been withheld when the committee considered an alleged breach of privilege by Senator Norris. During the course of that no confidence debate I said that I failed to see how we could continue in this House to operate without what I termed to be a whiff of sulphur. I appealed directly to the Cathaoirleach to consider his position.

In that debate, almost two years ago, on 28 March, I said there was a wider interest than our own interest in this House; the interest was that of the country and of the Oireachtas. In the interest of the credibility of the political process and of the credibility of politicians I appealed directly to the Cathaoirleach at that late stage to reconsider his position. I said I was at a loss to know how we could continue to conduct the affairs of the House without continuing acrimony and without this continuing whiff of sulphur and that in the absence of such a gesture from the Cathaoirleach my party would be supporting the motion of no confidence, which is what we did.

It is getting to the point that not only do the public not know who to believe but Members of the Oireachtas do not know who to believe. There are two opposing and contradictory versions of events and, indeed, it is also worth recording that there is a third version of events which differs from the other two, the version contained in Deputy FitzGerald's autobiography which I went through in some detail last night. Perhaps that would bear some examination. All we can say with absolute certainty is that somebody is lying, perhaps more than one person is lying. As to where the truth lies, it is my fervent hope that over the next few days we will establish with some degree of certainty where the truth lies. I take the view that the truth is indivisible. There is no such thing as a half truth or half a lie.

None of us can claim that during our lifetime we have not told an untruth but that is not the issue. There is a solemn responsibility of us as politicians to be even more aware of the necessity to tell the truth than there might be in private life. There is an overriding responsibility on Members of all parliaments, wherever they are, to tell the truth before the parliament of which they are a Member. It is worth making those points. A political lie is no less a lie than any other lie; the public have a right to demand the very highest standards of their public representatives and their very low opinion of politicians, as revealed in recent opinion polls, confirms the onus which I am confident the vast majority of Members of both Houses accept to uphold such standards. It is not a required qualification of politicians to tell lies.

In that respect I will go back once again to the debate of 28 March 1990 when the House voted confidence in the Cathaoirleach — and in which my party opposed that vote of confidence — when I stated that the need for high standards applies to every Member of both Houses of the Oireachtas. How very much more must it apply to the most important offices of State of which the Cathaoirleach is one.

I would add to that another important office of State, that of Taoiseach. Not only must the standards be upheld, they must be seen to be upheld. It is precisely because the Progressive Democrats recognise the constitutional importance of the office of Cathaoirleach that they believe the integrity of that office must be upheld, even at the expense of the person holding the office. I do not think that anything said then or subsequently either on the floor of this House or within the Committee on Procedure and Privileges is different from the original position.

I should say, lest there is any misunderstanding, that in my experience the Cathaoirleach, both as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and as Chairman of the Committee on Procedures and Privileges, has at all times treated me with absolute courtesy. He has been even-handed in all his dealings, nor indeed has he ever allowed any antipathy he might have had — it would be understandable for him to have such antipathy — to surface in any of his dealings with me. For that he has my thanks. However critical I may have been of the Cathaoirleach within this Chamber and and outside the House he, I must say, ran the business of the House particularly in the last session, calmly and smoothly. It is my fervent hope that when the present turbulence settles his successor will bring us back on course to implement the reforms now before the Committee on Procedures and Privileges and that we will get on with our legislative programme. I note in the Cathaoirleach's letter of resignation that he appeals to us to proceed with the reforms which are being discussed at present. I share the general distaste, which I am sure there is throughout the country, about this matter, this sad and sorry situation.

This morning Deputy Bruton gave the Progressive Democrats a lecture on their responsibilities to the country. Deputy Bruton, and his colleagues in this House, may rest assured that my party will — I am sure this applies to all parties — fulfil their responsibilities to the country. It is my wish that we will be able to proceed to address and deal with the very important issues which confront us in relation to our economy, unemployment and the other pressing matters that need our attention. Senator Upton said — I am not sure what he said——

The Senator should know, I always say the same thing.

I am quite certain that there is no need to defend our credentials. Our views on the existence of this House are well known but, as I have stated many times, as long as we are here and as long as this House remains a political institution of the State we will participate to the fullest as democrats in all its processes. Our record stands up to examination in that respect in the way we have contributed to this House and we will continue to do so.

The Senator will be here as long as he can. Thanks be to God that in all crises — if this can be called a crisis — there are moments of light relief. For me the undisputed moment of light relief was when Deputy Tunney said that the whole crisis left him at a loss for words.

Would that that were so.

He went on, of course, to immediately contradict this at great length.

More seriously, it is a great pity — and it is not the first time I have said this — that Seanad Éireann gets into the limelight only on very notorious occasions. When I come to think of it, most of those notorious occasions have been linked with the outgoing Cathaoirleach. In fact, the other widely publicised occasion was the Minister for the Gaeltacht's sole visit to his House when he took the Blasket Islands Bill and perhaps there is a link there as well. I have to say we can do without that kind of notoriety.

As I said on what I took to be the Order of Business but which was some strange introduction to these proceedings, all this is a scandalous distraction from what we should be about, what we were called here to do today on a clearly indicated Order of Business and from vital matters of national concern which have been alluded to. We were called here today to adopt the improbable role of referees in a lovers' quarrel, the estrangement of two cronies. In effect, this is what it is, and the picture the Cathaoirleach drew last night of placing the transcripts on the desk of the Taoiseach fits very well with that picture of cronyism. To me it is perfectly credible that nobody else saw those transcripts — he went to the boss, as in a Chicago gangster grade B movie, with his transcripts. This is what we are talking about — estranged cronies, mutual skulduggery. What business have we discussing that?

I was much taken by Senator Doyle's incisive contribution and the way in which she said, for example, that Senator Doherty may be off to mobilise the provincial legions. Let us hope that he does not march them back across the Shannon, burn his boats and cross the Rubicon. It is true that Senator Doherty is a kind of a Greek tragic figure, in a very minor key let me add. I do not want to do a particular injustice to Sophocles and others but he is like a figure out of a Greek tragedy because he is the author of his own misfortunes. Senator Doyle was perfectly right in that respect.

I must say I was aware of his faults as well as everybody else. Indeed, I was the victim of some of his indiscretions. I understand I would have gone to Nicaragua only for his machinations, whether that is true or false, and he evicted me from the House on at least one occasion. However, I must confess that in a sense I am sorry he is gone. Whatever his faults, whatever his roguery, he was extremely likeable. It is one of the extraordinary facts of life, that you like people, that you are seduced by their charm even though on strict moral grounds you should not be. I like Senator Seán Doherty. When he had an unfortunate car accident some time ago I wrote to him. I was very sorry he was involved in the accident. On a personal level I am sorry he is gone, at least for the moment anyway.

To return to my point, the resignation of the Cathaoirleach is fundamentally no business of ours; he is gone and that is it. He did not do this House any further discredit than he had already done it. We had no further quarrel with him than the last occasion on which we discussed a vote of no confidence. It is Fianna Fáil who have the quarrel with him and it is their business to contemplate the consequences of his resignation. That is why I believe this business in a sense should not detain us.

Several quotations spring to mind: for example, "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done", and putting it more positively, "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it", "They will not have Seán Doherty to kick around any more"— of course, that was the prelude to a notorious comeback as well — and finally, and this is the last point of levity I will make, "We have lost him surely, we have the lost the only playboy of the western world".

Who are we to believe? We were asked today by the Taoiseach to believe that Senator Doherty is telling further lies. I have difficulty in accepting that because of the case he made last night as to why he had nothing to gain from this and why he was doing it now. That squares with what we all know: the Cathaoirleach has said privately to more than one of us that he was hard done by, that he was the victim of a particular wrongdoing and so on and to that extent his announcement was not unexpected. If he was not telling the truth last night, then he is an absolutely incredibly unprincipled rogue. Either that, or the Taoiseach is an unprincipled rogue. It is possible, of course, that both of them are unprincipled rogues.

That is the point.

Unless some official, some secretary or somebody who was in the Taoiseach's office in 1982 comes forward and testifies to the presence of these transcripts or not, we are going to be a long time guessing. In any case, I agree with those who said it is high time for the Taoiseach to go. Whatever his contribution to this country and whatever his talents, I have always believed he spent so much time trying to get back to power and influence all through the seventies that when he finally made it to the top he really had no more to contribute. He has contributed very little to this country since 1979, except the exploitation of various crises in the most cynical way to opportunistically promote his own career.

Dr. Conor Cruise O'Brien has often said that the Taoiseach would stop at nothing to retain power. All of us would regard that as part of his neurotic obsession about him, but it is a good job the Progressive Democrats, with all their balancing trick of being at once in Government and in highfalutin' moral opposition, are there and I hope they will do their final service to the country in this instance. It is a good job as well that democracy is there because the Taoiseach, Mr. Charles J. Haughey, has Bonapartist tendencies at the very least. Therefore, it is time he went. Again, one cannot avoid quoting Shakespeare who seems to have words for all occasions. At present the Taoiseach is like Macbeth at bay, "those he commands move only in command, nothing in love. Now does he feel his title hang loose about him like a giant robe upon a dwarfish thief".

I agree with Senator McGowan and Senator Hederman who made the point that there are many vital issues we want to discuss here: the implications of the obscene atrocity last Friday in County Tyrone as well as the more chronic, social and economic problems facing us. I hope we elect our new Cathaoirleach as quickly as possible and that we get on with our proper business.

Before calling Senator Mooney, in view of what Senator Murphy said at the start of his contribution, I should like to clarify that the Order of Business will be taken after this matter, the fixing of the date for the election of Cathaoirleach, has been concluded.

While I do not always agree with him, I find the contributions of my colleague, Senator Murphy, enlightening, witty and original. There has been a great deal of talk about assaults on democracy. As I listened to my colleagues on the other side of the House I could not help but wonder if they are doing any great favour to demoncracy. They somehow seem to think they are outside the democratic process, that any faults, whether real or imagined, are on one side and that they can somehow escape from the shadow which has been cast over political life in several cases in recent months that I believe is unwarranted.

Like Senator Fallon I will confine my contribution primarily to the role of the former Cathoirleach and his contribution to this House. I am in a unique position in one respect in that I have known Seán Doherty all my life. His family come from my home town of Drumshanbo. His father, a member of a family of four brothers and a sister, was the only one to move across the Shannon to Cootehall. Members of the family live in the Drumshanbo area and I know them all. Seán Doherty and I have the same alma mater. Although we were not in the same year we were there during the same period. To use the words of Senator Fallon, Senator Doherty has always been a controversial figure. Perhaps those of us who know him would say that a certain tradition of controversy surround him. However, acted honourably, efficiently and courteously and at all times as Cathaoirleach he was conscious of the high honour that had been placed on him and attempted, successfully, to carry out the duties of Cathaoirleach. This House is the worst for his passing as Cathaoirleach.

He is not dead.

I am delighted Senator Doyle has made that comment because one would get the impression listening to many of the comments today that he had passed away rather than resigned from the position of Cathaoirleach. Those who know Seán Doherty do not believe they are dancing on his political grave today because, knowing the resilience of the former Cathaoirleach and his standing in his native County Roscommon, it is highly unlikely that this temporary passing will have any long term adverse effects on his political career which is far from over. I hope his family, particularly his daughters will read the transcript of today's contributions because, irrespective of the political barbs that have been shot across the House and the analysis of many of my colleagues on the other side about the travails, real and otherwise, of Fianna Fáil and past Fianna Fáil administrations, what has come through in all contributions is the innate decency of the man in his role as Cathaoirleach.

In the arena of political debate we sometimes forget the families of the protagonists. I do not think any of us enjoyed the spectacle of the last 24 hours, of listening to the langugage of confrontation first from Senator Doherty last night and today from the Taoiseach. It has not been a pleasant experience. It does not reflect well on politics or on the political life of this country that we should be subjected to this type of rhetoric. I hope the matter has ended, that the issue has been put to bed and, as has been said on all sides of the House, that we can get on with the real business or organising and running this country. I would say to those people listening to this debate who support Fianna Fáil and who up to now have been hearing about the alleged sins of the party to which they have adhered — taking the cue from Senator Upton — I do not believe there is any whiff of corruption about the supporters of Fianna Fáil or about my colleagues on this side of the House. There is no smell of scandal from this side of the House. Fianna Fáil people are decent people.

Does the Senator mean they do not even recognise it when they are confronted with it?

Fianna Fáil supporters are decent people who are proud of their tradition, proud of the record of service which is without parallel here.

There are decent people in Fianna Fáil who are not proud of this spectacle and the Senator is doing them no service.

Acting Chairman

Senator Mooney should be allowed to continue without interruption. All Members will have their say.

I am pleased the Chair pointed that out to my colleagues because I listened with mounting anger and great disappointment to the contributions of the other side of the House. I held my tongue and I would expect my colleagues to do the same now that I am on my feet. They may not agree with what I have to say but I have a right to say it to almost 50 per cent of the people of this country who have consistently supported Fianna Fáil.

The figure is 42 or is it 39 per cent?

The Senator can argue about semantics if he wishes but the essence of my point is that the majority of people have supported Fianna Fáil and would do so again tomorrow.

There are decent people in Fianna Fáil who do not like the scandals.

Acting Chairman

The Senator must be allowed continue without further interruption.

I am sick and tired of people branding me, my colleagues on this side of the House and the party we represent as a political pariah. I accept that in the cut and thrust of debate allegations are made but I am not going to joust with Senator Doyle or the representatives of the Fine Gael Party about what Fianna Fáil have been accused of by retorting with accusations at Fine Gael. That would not in any way, further this debate. I am not attempting to dance on the grave of an innately decent man who has an innately decent family or of a Taoiseach who has an innately decent wife and family who must be also going through their own anguish at this time. Politics is about much more than this cut and thrust we have been listening to today, and I am only putting on the record that I see that as a greater priority.

I issue a word of warning to those who have been dancing on the perceived grave of Fianna Fáil today, that in a general election all political parties and all politicians will face the cynical indifference of the general public towards politicians and towards politics as it is practised in this House. That is a fair assessment. I should like to say, in response to the calls for a general election, that it would not resolve anything. It would probably turn this country into the type of banana republic to which Senator Doyle referred. It is acknowledged on all sides that under the present constituency arrangements it is unlikely any one party would receive an overall majority. Those of us who contested the local elections in the last six months will testify that there are single issue candidates who are waiting at the gate for the off. In many cases they would get a response from a weary, indifferent and cynical electorate.

Is the Senator afraid of the polls?

As a result of a general election we could be faced with a group of disparate independents who are interested in single issues and with little concern for national interests. That would not serve any purpose and would certainly not serve the purpose of the governing of this country.

On a personal level — I am sorry Senator Doherty has chosen the path he has taken. His political motives are a matter for him, but I wish him well. I hope he will resume his contribution to this House as a member of the Fianna Fáil Party and that we can get back, to the issues that matter most here.

I regret we are debating such an issue today, particularly in the light of the many real problems affecting the country. The last speaker referred to the debacle of the past 24 hours. I agree with his description but he should have gone further. The debacle over the past four to five months has paralysed our political system and the operation of Government. The real issues affecting men and women are bringing up families, trying to make ends meet, trying to get jobs, being able to live peacefully and safely in one's house, and in peace on this island. The dark atrocity in part of this country a few days ago is being overlooked.

I am sorry Senator Doherty has resigned as Cathaoirleach. He is a most personable character. He tried to help Senators in dealing with the business of the House. It is fair to say he was the author of his own misfortune. Whatever else this debate does, I hope it will unravel the issues of the past ten years. I was asked earlier today: which lie do you believe? Unfortunately, that is what is being asked. I do not know who to believe; I do not know who is telling more of the truth. Did we hear the truth today, yesterday, in 1982 or 1983?

As Senator Doherty has left centre stage, the Taoiseach should follow suit in the national interest. The two parties in Government will face difficulties. Let me say to the Taoiseach, and to the other party in Government, that it is time for a change. The past few months have highlighted the need for this. Whether the Taoiseach goes today, next week or next month, we will have this internal wrangling in Fianna Fáil. I do not care who becomes their next leader, but I care about who is running the country and dealing with the many problems bedeviling us. The internal wrangling in Fianna Fáil has meant that the real issues are not getting the attention they deserve. Are the Cabinet discussing today how best to frame the budget and the difficulties in Northern Ireland? Will they be able to discuss the worsening of serious crime here, particularly in urban areas? Of course not. They must deal with issues that took place over the past ten years. The public are cynical about the political process; we are all being dragged into this quagmire. The public are looking for leadership. Late in the day, as it is, it is important that politicians give that leadership in the coming weeks.

Let me address the Members on the Government side. The person they pick to succeed Senator Doherty is their choice. No doubt well qualified candidates will come forward and I wish the person chosen every good wish in this high office. The office of Cathaoirleach should not be dragged through every political mudbath and it is important to restore political credibility. The public are sick to death of the wrangling over the leadership of Fianna Fáil and seeing headlines about who is going to challenge the Taoiseach. At this difficult time our problems are not being tackled. The most important thing that may come out of this debate is that Senators will resolve to put events behind them and deal with the real issues.

Our concern is not who will lead Fianna Fáil in the future but it is high time they elected a new leader. It is high time the public were given a chance to adjudicate on the Government. The people are fed up with the mismanagement of the economy. The real issues are ignored while we sensationalise other matters. This is damaging further our country's image abroad. It is time the Taoiseach resigned in the national interest. We do not know who is telling the truth, or more of the truth, or whether these matters can be verified independently. What is more serious is that there are major question marks over individuals in high office. The Taoiseach should follow the action taken by the Cathaoirleach.

I hope we will proceed to debate the real issues facing the country and will put another sorry mess behind us. It is up to us to do so. We were elected to legislate. We are at a crossroads and it is important that Members recognise that. I ask Members opposite to make the decisions they should have made recently.

On a point of order, could we have some members of the Fianna Fáil Party in the House to listen to this debate or are they too embarrassed given the topic under discussion? They should be present to listen to their colleagues address a most important topic.

Acting Chairman

That is not a point of order.

We should have a quorum, because democracy demands that the Fianna Fáil Party listen to this most important debate which concerns their Taoiseach, their party and a former Cathaoirleach who is a member of their party.

Notice taken that 12 Members were not present; House counted and 12 Members being present,

I am sorry Senator Doyle is upset that there were not a quorum to listen to what she had to say. I was the next speaker and I was not complaining about whether there were sufficient numbers here to listen to me. However, it obviously struck a cord with Senator Doyle, and she has made her point for publicity purposes. This is not the first occasion she has done that; she is pretty adept at that procedure.

Acting Chairman

I remind the Senator to keep to the business before the House, please.

Yes, indeed. Senator Doyle prevented me from starting a minute ago.

There was no one to listen to the Senator.

It is with regret that I listened to Senator Seán Doherty's statement of resignation. I know Seán Doherty as well, or possibly, better, than most Members of this House. I remember his first opportunity to enter political life. I remember when he joined Roscommon County Council; for 12 years I was a member of Roscommon County Council with Seán Doherty. I remember his first leap into national politics, his first leap to Minister of State and his leap into Cabinet. I saw the glory days and I saw the sad days, and, to some extent, today is a sad day. It is a sad day for Senator Doherty and his family. Seán Doherty is to some people a folk hero; to others he would not have the same appeal, but one thing he does have is an extraordinary personality. He is a man of great charm and ability. Seán Doherty has left a mark on Irish politics; some would say it is not a good mark and others might not altogether agree. As a person, you could not find finer than Seán Doherty. He is very good company. On a political level, he is sharp, intellectual, he has a great turn of phrase and he is a good man to throw the shot across the political bow. No Member of this House here today should attempt to dance on his political grave.

The Senator's colleagues said that——

Acting Chairman

Please allow the speaker to speak without interruption.

That, I believe, would be a very foolish thing to do.

It was a Fianna Fáil man who suggested that.

Acting Chairman

Senator Doyle, please stop interrupting the other speakers. I am sorry to have to caution you regularly.

It is very hard to have patience.

Acting Chairman

I ask Senator Doyle to refrain from interrupting. I call on Senator Finneran to continue, without interruption please.

Thank you, Sir.

Sugary waffle.

Acting Chairman

Senator Doyle, please.

I did not interrupt the Senator today.

I do not think the Senator was here in fact, no one from the other side was in the Chamber.

Acting Chairman

Senator Doyle, please. Every speaker——

We did not interrupt the Senator.

They could not interrupt me because there was no Fianna Fáil Senator present.

That is incorrect, Senator. We were all here. I was here for——


Acting Chairman

Senator Doyle——

There was no fear of my being interrupted. They were all downstairs.

We are used to the Senator waffling on for hours.

Is that right?

Acting Chairman

Please. Senator Finneran, please continue without interruption. If there is any more interruptions I will take a different line.

As I have said, today is a sad day for me as a Roscommon man and as a colleague of Seán Doherty's. Seán Doherty took his own decision for his own reasons; he set his own agenda, possibly yesterday evening. I did not have any prior knowledge of his statement or of the press conference yesterday evening. I remember vividly Seán Doherty in late 1982 and 1983. I was not privileged to the information he has given, nor was I at any time since informed of what took place then. I have always taken what was made public. I shall not go into that issue now. That is a matter for our own party to discuss and debate. However, I have no doubt that Seán Doherty will survive. I also have no doubt that Seán Doherty has a part to play in political life. As a colleague of his in Roscommon, I want to wish him and his wife, Maura, and his family the very best for the future. I know this is trying time and a lonely time for them. I appreciate that because I saw him in a similar situation some years ago.

I believe that Seán Doherty did the proper thing by tendering his resignation to the Seanad today. Like Senators Finneran and Mooney, I have known Seán Doherty very well over the years. I particularly know his wife's family. In fact, I was in the same class in primary school as Maura, his wife, and want to express my sympathy to her and with their family.

Seán Doherty has always been a controversial figure and I have no doubt that under that veneer of brashness there is a reckless but naive and gullible man. That might not appear too obvious. He was a fair man in the Chair; he was even handed, generous and humorous. I have no complaints to make about the way he handled business and the way in which he treated me and the Labour Party in this House.

Some might say that in the wider political arena he was a man as much sinned against as sinning, but he did sin and he admitted it. Ironically, he was, to a considerable degree, responsible for Charles J. Haughey coming to power in Fianna Fáil. He was one of the organisers of the coup against the previous Taoiseach, Jack Lynch; indeed, it was Ray MacSharry who proposed Charles Haughey at the parliamentary party meeting. Both men were elevated and both publicly admitted that they were guilty of phone-tapping. Seán Doherty, as Minister for Justice, phone-tapped two journalists and Ray MacSharry tapped the phone of a colleague in Government, Martin O'Donoghue. I believe that that action by a person in a position of authority was an abuse of authority.

Acting Chairman

It is usual that speakers in this House do not refer to people in the other House.

I will remember that. I will give them their official titles. I referred to the then Minister, Ray MacSharry, and to the abuse of power by phone tapping. I want to refer to the transcripts of the tapes that were taken by the Minister of the day — not Seán Doherty, the Minister for Justice, but by a previous Minister for Agriculture and Finance, who is now a Commissioner in Europe — who admitted that he was involved illegally and improperly in tapping the telephone of a colleague in Government. Such an abuse of a ministerial power renders a person unfit to hold high office. I voted against Senator Doherty becoming Cathaoirleach of the Seanad as did all the people on this side of the House.

Senator Doherty admitted at the time that he had been involved in this abuse and what we are now getting is the rest of the story. At that time he did not implicate the Taoiseach. What he is doing now is spreading the net wider and implicating those who were involved at the time but for whom he was the scapegoat. The statement is categorical. Last night Senator Doherty said:

I am confirming tonight that the Taoiseach, Mr. Haughey, was fully aware in 1982 that two journalists' phones were being tapped and that he at no stage expressed a reservation about this action.

There is the detail. He continued:

I wish to reiterate in specific terms Mr. Ainsworth forwarded to me the transcripts relevant to the Cabinet leak problem, numbering some four or five out of the roughly 12 or 13 total. Each and every one of these relevant transcipts was transported by me to Mr. Haughey's office and handed to him directly. He retained all but one of them making no comment on their content. At no stage did he indicate disapproval of the action which had been taken.

He went on to say, categorically:

I did not seek nor did I get any instruction from any member of the Cabinet in this regard nor did I tell the Cabinet that this action had been taken. Telephone tapping was never discussed in Cabinet.

In other words, what the Taoiseach has done is to construct allegations that have not been made and demolish them.

Let us look at the Taoiseach's record. There was the arms trial in 1971, and a question mark still remains there. Judge Henchy categorically stated that either the then Minister for Agriculture or Deputy Haughey was telling lies. There was the GUBU affair in the early eighties and the controversy surrounding that. The Taoiseach is a man of controversy. There are the present business scandals, Greencore, Carysfort, the Goodman and Desmond affairs. When it was categorically stated by the Leader of the Labour Party that a meeting had taken place between the managing director of Greencore and the Taoiseach it was denied. The Taoiseach's answers to the House was that no "such" meeting occurred. According to the transcripts from the Taoiseach he said: "The Government had no such meeting".

If we look at all the elements here, we find that what appears to be a contradiction is not necessarily so. It is avoiding the truth, bending it, making a suggestion, an innuendo, but nothing straightforward. For example, the ex-Cathaoirleach, Senator Seán Doherty, said he had given the transcripts directly to the Taoiseach over a period of time, but the Taoiseach denied that. Yet the record clearly states that they were given directly to the Taoiseach over a period of time. The Taoiseach quotes Mr. Ainsworth but Senator Doherty has clearly implicated Mr. Ainsworth. Then the Taoiseach makes his own allegations. He refers to Senator Doherty's "transparent and personal motives". He says there is a "flagrant inconsistency", that he is "the author of his own downfall", that he is "seeking to bring down the Taoiseach and the Government" and that he has made "monstrous and unfounded allegations", all without an iota of evidence.

Acting Chairman

The Senator has one minute to conclude.

This is a vital issue because over the past six months it has diverted our attention from the real issues of the day. Unemployment is at a scandalous level, the reneging on the Programme——

Acting Chairman

I would remind the Senator to conclude. His time is up.

About ten seconds ago you said I had about a minute to conclude. I am concluding. There is the housing problem, the fact that we have neglected to properly prepare for Maasstricht and the tragedy of Northern Ireland. There are two groups who can resolve this problem. The first is the Progressive Democrats. They cannot wash their hands of this and leave it to Fianna Fáil because they were responsible for Deputy Brian Lenihan, the then Tánaiste, being forced to step aside and for Deputy James McDaid being forced to step aside.

Acting Chairman

I must ask the Senator to resume his seat.

It is time to ask the Taoiseach to step aside. The Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party must do the honourable thing and decide that the Taoiseach must go.

I will be very brief. I did not intend to speak on this matter. I regret to see so much time wasted discussing matters that are irrelevant when there are so many other problems facing the country.

I am very sorry to see Senator Seán Doherty resign from the Chair because he has been a very successful Cathaoirleach and has done a very good job. He has been very fair in running the business of this House. As a constituency colleague, he has been an excellent worker in his own constituency of Roscommon which adjoins my constituency of East Galway. He has done a tremendous amount of work for the people of Roscommon and he has very strong support there. It is regrettable that he has had to make this decision.

I do not know why we should be reverting back to things that happened nine or ten years ago. The telephone tapping episode was dealt with in the courts and judgment was given. I cannot see the logic of wasting time discussing events that took place nine or ten years ago when there are many other far more important problems that we could be discussing.

We will elect a Cathaoirleach and it is important that that be done right away. I am happy the Leader of the House has indicated that that election will take place tomorrow. I hope that once that is done we can put this whole unhappy episode behind us and get on with the business of the House.

I am not going to go into the rights and wrongs of what has been said by the parties involved in this episode. That will be for others to decide and others to judge. I am sorry to see Senator Doherty depart as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. I wish him every success in whatever line of activity he decides to pursue. I hope the new Cathaoirleach will be elected tomorrow and that we can proceed with our business from there.

I do not join in the general sorrow that Senator Doherty has resigned as Cathaoirleach. I am extremely glad. I think it is about time. I would have preferred if he had done it a long time ago. I do not intend this to be a bitter personal attack on the former Cathaoirleach. As has been said, he is a highly intelligent, charming, engaging, witty person but one totally unsuited for the role of Cathaoirleach of this distinguished House, which he brought into discredit and which he continued to bring into discredit by his appearance on "Nighthawks" where he collaborated in the description of his colleagues in the Seanad as "eunuchs", which I do not think was a particularly dignified term to apply to Senators of the Irish Republic.

I have sympathy for his family. It is extremely difficult. One could not but be moved by the face of his wife at the press conference and of course I extend my sympathy to his family. When people go into political life the cliché is that if you are in the kitchen you must be able to stand the heat. Senator Doherty obviously felt he could not stand the heat but he lit the fire and I do not see why I should have great sympathy for him. May I say I have sympathy for many people in this country. I have sympathy for the 41 per cent or so of the electorate who vote for Fianna Fáil, most of whom are thoroughly decent people. I am quite certain they must be confused and bewildered by what is going on here today.

I would like to say with regard to the honesty of Senator Doherty that after sitting on top of a festering pile of lies for nine years he has suddenly discovered truth. I am delighted and I hope it extends to a lot of other things that may be uncomfortable like the Dowra affair, the Sergeant Tully affair, etc; I am not going to list them but many people know them. Perhaps if this honesty is such a continuing contagion we may be treated to more honesty from Senator Doherty.

I would like to say with regard to the general situation that there are people here throughout political life — not too many of them, I am glad to say — who have a curious view of truth and I am inclined to include both Senator Doherty and the Taoiseach in it, namely, that the truth can be manufactured and you can manufacture whatever you like as long as it convinces a significant proportion of the electorate or confuses them to such an extent that they may be persuaded to believe it. I am not in a position to say the Taoiseach is lying but I will say this: he is most extraordinarily accident prone. He seems to be some kind of lightning conductor. In another part of this House, about ten minutes ago, a member of Fianna Fáil said to me that they felt he was being pilloried, that he was like a man in medieval stocks that people were throwing rubbish at him. Maybe that is the case but it is a very uncomfortable and awkward position from which to attempt to rule the country. I think it is one from which the Taoiseach should certainly resign.

We have just heard that the question of telephone tapping is not important, that we do not have to rake it over. It was important to Senator Doherty. I would like to say also that there is a question here of monumental egos. Senator Doherty said he had to come out with the truth now because his position was being made embarrassing. That is a very interesting statement and I think it extends to other people in Irish political life. They put themselves before their party, they put the party before the country; in other words, the country comes a very poor third.

I have some feelings about telephone tapping. I am very glad that a Bill is being introduced and I will tell you why. Eight years ago or so when I was in the middle of a complicated legal case against the Government I was given substantial circumstantial evidence that my own telephone was being tapped. I contacted my barrister, Mrs. Mary Robinson, and I asked what could be done about it. I was actually told very little could be done about it. A question could be asked in the House but it would be covered by national security so we did not enter it in the case that I used. We did, however, put evidence on the record of the High Court that my mail was routinely separated in Sheriff Street sorting office and opened and they even abstracted items from it and referred a novel which was sent to me by a former female student to the censorship of publications board, so I think there is a level of hypocrisy.

I would like to address the level of hypocrisy that I have heard here this afternoon as well. Everybody it seems is whiter than white with regard to the Doherty business. I want to put on the record of this House that when I challenged Senator Doherty on a matter over which I still stand and on which I have produced a detailed documented case, laying aside the merits of what I alleged I was brought before a Star Chamber. I attacked it on certain specific grounds, that Senator Doherty should not be judge and jury in his own case, that I should be entitled to cross examine witnesses, I should have access to evidence, I should be allowed to call witnesses, to have legal representation and to introduce evidence myself and may I say the representatives of every single party in this House on the Committee on Procedure and Privileges voted to violate my constitutional democratic and human rights. Now we have the Progressive Democrats——

May I interrupt the Senator for a moment, please? It is not a question of being out of order on all of what you are saying because most people who spoke today went a little overboard. What I would like to suggest is that you cannot call the Committee on Procedure and Privileges a Star Chamber.

The High Court decided that it violated my constitutional and human rights. I am not worried. Let us not delay over it because I have other things to say about it.

That is incorrect.

I will make the point that Members voted to violate those rights and they now whitewash themselves.

On the basis of advice we had from the Cathaoirleach at the time.

With regard to the election of officers, I thought Senator Doherty was inappropriate and I said it at the time. He was not the only one. Let us look at the way the Seanad was treated. Deputy Doherty had been rejected by the electorate in the general election for Dáil Éireann, in the European election and he then mysteriously turned up here as Cathaoirleach. The Leader of the House, Senator Lanigan, was actually defeated at the general election for the Seanad and had to be parachuted in and the Leas-Chathaoirleach was defeated for the Dáil, so that shows the elevated regard in which the Seanad is held by the principal political parties. I think that is quite an extraordinary damaging thing to happen.

With regard to the image of this country we have had a succession of scandals one after another. Because, unfortunately, RTE were off the air — and I have to say it also showed up the lack of news content in the other stations that broadcast regularly in this country — I had to watch Sky television to see what was happening and it was item No. 1 in their news programme. It was made perfectly clear that here was a former Cabinet Minister saying quite specifically and categorically that there was no question that the Taoiseach, Deputy Haughey, was lying.

That is an extremely serious charge to make. I wonder what motivated it? We are entitled to speculate about the motivation of Senator Doherty. If it is the truth then I am very glad for that but it seems to be part of continuing internal problems inside the Fianna Fáil Party and I wish they would get this cleared up once and for all because we are here again wasting time this afternoon. A number of us wanted, for example, to make proposals, to attempt to address the question of Norther Ireland, the economy, unemployment — and principally, the North — but each week during the past eight months I have been told, for example, that we cannot speak, about the North of Ireland because it would exacerbate the problem. How can you exacerbate a situation where seven men travelling home on a Friday afternoon are blown to smithereens? How much worse does it have to get before the democratically elected Parliament of this country can actually discuss such an issue?

Why are we wasting another day? Why can we not elect a Cathaoirleach this evening? Why not get to it immediately? We are, after all, the elected representatives. There is no technical reason we cannot do that. The real reason of course is that it gives the political parties time to manoeuvre and select their candidates. They can put the machinery into play and come up with a candidate who will be in their particular sectional political interests. I call on the Seanad to elect a Cathaoirleach tonight. I do not see why it should not do so. It would be absolutely proper for it to do so and it would help to restore the image of this House. I do not have to remind the House that in a recent opinion poll politicians in this country were held in extraordinarily low esteem by the general public. When I see the behaviour of both Houses on certain occasions I am not entirely surprised.

I usually get on extremely well with journalists but I am astonished by the comments that I read sometimes in The Irish Times by Mr. Waters, who has written the book Jiving at the Crossroads, and by his pontifications of two days ago. I will look with interest to see what he is now writing, but in The Irish Times today there is a revised version of the Water's line on the Doherty business and he has one extraordinary phrase on it. He has decided to canonise the martyr Doherty now, because he says — I cannot remember the exact phrase — Senator Doherty has done something almost unique among politicians: he has told the truth.

Acting Chairman

The Senator has exceeded his time.

I thank you for allowing me to exceed my time. I would like to conclude on the point that I believe that is a libel on politicians. It is grossly irresponsible for somebody to say that Senator Doherty — it is a laughable concept — having belatedly discovered the truth is now to be canonised for Irish people for telling the truth on one occasion and the truth told was, "I lied". It is a wonderful standard of truth the Irish people must be proud of — Mother Ireland you are rearing them yet.

It has sometimes been said that most political careers end in tears. Certainly in politics we have to take the knocks as well the success. In at least one respect Senator Doherty has set us all an example which perhaps at times we should be prepared, however difficult it may be, to follow, that is, first of all to admit to a mistake. That is always a difficult thing to do. It must be particularly difficult when one is admitting that what one said previously is not in fact correct. I think also that all of us should think about whether we would be prepared to resign under certain circumstances. Perhaps some of the criticisms which the previous speaker has made and which are generally made about politicians would be less deep and have less substance if people were willing in certain circumstances to make what in political terms is the supreme sacrifice of resigning.

On a personal basis, I have known Senator Doherty for many years; he was always extremely courteous and thoughtful both in and out of the Chair. He has been very anxious to be helpful to Members on either side of the House. What has happened is a personal tragedy and I very much regret it. As Senator Hederman has said, there are other matters of grave importance that we should be looking at. Perhaps this is much more exciting television and so on but there are indeed much graver problems. I believe we have an excellent Government who are tackling the problems which I think all sides of the House would agree need to be tackled.

Ba mhaith liom ar dtús comhbhrón a dhéanamh leis an Seanadóir Doherty, agus lena bhean agus a chlann, faoi céard atá tarlaithe dó. Creidimise go ndearna an Seanadóir a chuid oibre go díograiseach, go macánta agus go féaráilte. Ach tá rud tarlaithe anois a thugann le tuiscint nach raibh sé feiliúnach don obair a bhí ar bun aige. Tá sé éasca fear a chur síos nuair atá gach éinne anuas air agus a rá gur theip air. Is minic a déantar dearmad ar na buntáistí a bhí ag an bhfear céanna agus ar na rudaí maithe a rinne sé i gcaitheamh a réimis, agus níl mise ag caint ach faoi a réimeas mar Chathaoirleach ar an Seanad.

Tá cainteoirí ag dul siar ar cad a tharla deich mbliana ó shin, faoi chogadh inmheánach a bhí ar siúl i bhFianna Fáil. Tá an-deifir ar an bhFreasúra agus ar an Rialtas fáil réidh leis seo. Tá siad ag déanamh iontais de nach bhfuilimid gabhtha thairis agus imithe ar aghaidh le obair an tSeanaid mar a tugadh anseo muid inniu le déanamh. Caithfidh Fianna Fáil a thuiscint gurb iad féin faoi ndear na trioblóidí atá faoi chaibidil anseo. Níl aon bhaint ag na páirtithe polaitíochta eile leis na himeachtaí seo. Tá an milleán ar fad orthu féin.

Mar a dúirt Seanadóirí eile, tá dhá scéal againn: tá an scéal atá fírinneach agus an sceál atá bréagach, nó finscéal. Ceapaim féin, ag scrúdú an dá scéal, go raibh an t-iar-Chathaoirleach ag insint na fírinne nuair a labhair sé aréir. Mar a d'fhiafraigh go leor daoine eile, cén fáth nár dhúirt sé é seo blianta ó shin? Bhí brúnna áirithe aisteacha air ó thaobh na polaitíochta de agus níl sé éasca teacht as deacracht den cineál sin. Ach bhí sé soiléir domsa ó thús ama go raibh baint bunúsach ag an Taoiseach, Cathal Ó hEochaidh, leis an obair seo. Ní féidir liomsa a shamhailt nach mbeadh a fhios aige céard a bhí ar bun i 1982 nuair a déanadh na fóin a thapáil. Ní féidir liom glacadh leis ar bhealach ar bith nach raibh an t-eolas sin aige — Cathal Ó hEochaidh mar dhuine, mar Aire nó mar Thaoiseach — is cuma cén lipéad a chuirtear air — bhí a fhios aige céard a bhí ar bun agus go raibh sé tarlaithe. Bhí ar Sheán Doherty ó thaobh na polaitíochta inmheánach de i bhFianna Fáil, é sin a iompar é féin ar feadh na mblianta. Tá sé sásta teacht amach anois agus tá mé cinnte go bhfuil an fhírinne inste aige.

Tá na fadhbanna atá á gcruthú ag Fianna Fáil ag déanamh an-dochair do mhuintir na tíre agus go háirithe do shuim an aosa óig i bpolaitíocht. Níl iontas ar bith orm nach bhfuil aon mheas ag daoine óga ar an gcóras ná ar na páirtithe éagsúla. Is cuma cén taobh ar a bhfuilimid, de bharr na scannal seo táimid go léir tarraingthe isteach i rudaí nach raibh aon bhaint againn leo.

Cé tá ag fulaingt as seo? Iarthar na hÉireann, mar shampla, atá thíos leis, agus is as an iarthar an Seanadóir Doherty. Tuigeann sé chomh maith le duine ar bith an dochar uafásach atá á dhéanamh ansin faoi láthair mar gheall ar an imirce, easpa fostaíochta agus go leor easpaí infrastruchtúir atá ag cur as dúinn. Cuirfidh an scannal deireannach seo atá deich mbliana d'aois agus atá ag brúchtadh amach ó íochtar an phota i bhFianna Fáil bac eile orainn dul chun cinn sasúil a dhéanamh ó thaobh na polaitíochta de.

Bhí press conference ag an Taoiseach inniu agus deireann sé a mhalairt go hiomlán is atá ráite ag an Seanadóir Doherty. Tá ceannaire an Rialtais agus an Cathaoirleach ar Sheanad Éireann ag tabhairt bréagadóir ar a chéile. Cén meas a d'fhéadfadh éinne a bheith orainn mar náisiún de bharr a bhfuil ag tarlú anseo seachtain i ndiaidh seachtaine agus, sa chás seo, a tharla deich mbliana ó shin.

Acting Chairman

Your time is up.

Mar fhocal scoir, ba mhaith liom mo bhrón a chur i iúl do mhuintir Uí Dhochartaigh, dá bhean agus dá chlann, de bharr a bhfuil tarlaithe dó.

I intend to be very brief. I would like to place on record my sincere regret at what has happened in relation to the Cathaoirleach's resignation. It is unique because, as far as I am aware, it is the first time in the history of the Seanad a Cathaoirleach has resigned. I am told from the benches opposite it is not but certainly it has not happened in recent times.

I met Senator Doherty, the ex-Cathaoirleach, about two weeks before he was elected to the position of Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. Since then he has been subjected in this House from time to time to vilification by the Opposition and some of the Independents. Through all this he acquited himself with honour and distinction in the position of Cathaoirleach.

I recall being spokesman for Justice during the famous Norris affair, when I came to his defence and as a result of all these matters I became close to the Cathaoirleach. It was with great regret — and complete surprise — that I heard the announcement of his resignation. I wish him every success in whatever role he intends to take up. He must have felt very strongly about the matter to resign from the position of Cathaoirleach. If he feels that his actions are right, proper and justifiable then he has done a noble and honourable thing. Regardless of the veracity of what has happened and the comments from all sides of the House — some in support of what he has done and more condemning him — it is with some regret that I listened to Senator David Norris's comment that he was glad to be rid of him. At this stage that is not helpful because Senator Doherty has behaved in a dignified fashion in an effort to clear his name and those of his wife and family, which should be respected.

There is a lot of talk about the telephone tapping affair, but I was in England when it started. I came back to Ireland in the early eighties and set up business. Never having known the man personally, apart from what I read, it is with some personal regret that I am speaking here today. I do not want to be long winded. Many Senators from his own area in the west have contributed, they know his family background and they have had personal contacts with him in his constituency. I have none of that to offer but I regret that he has taken this decision.

I hope by this time tomorrow we will have a new Cathaoirleach and that the House can get back to its business. There are many important issues to be dealt with and I have no doubt that in the past 18 months to two years good work was done by this House. The Seanad, as part of the Houses of the Oireachtas, has been under criticism from time to time but in my brief period here — over two years — excellent work has been done in this House. There have been many excellent contributions and Senator Doherty in his time in the Chair carried out his role with honour and distinction. I wish him well in his new role.

I do not know about other Members of the House but this sort of issue, which involves something painful and unpleasant happening to another human being, is a very difficult one. There is undoubtedly a very appealing human element to this. It involves a man and his family and I would not like to give the impression that I am not aware of that. However, we have to address the reality, not Senator Doherty's family and the personal pain a series of circumstances has brought him but the reality of what Senator Doherty has done to this House.

I do not think he was a good Cathaoirleach. He was very good at chairing meetings of this House, but I expect more from a Cathaoirleach, which I got from a variety of Cathaoirligh from different political parties. I first expect the Cathaoirleach to be a person whose history and record both add to and sustain the dignity of this House. Senator Doherty came into the position of Cathaoirleach with a record which did nothing to add to the dignity of this House. He did nothing in terms of his activities as Cathaoirleach which added to the dignity of this House; rather he politicised it to a degree that had not happened previously during my period in this House. Apparently he could not resist involvement in party political controversies.

It became increasingly obvious that Senator Doherty had only a passing interest in this House and that he regarded it as a place in which he had to reside until he could get back to where he really wanted to be. I have no great objection to my colleagues in this House who operate in that fashion but I strongly object when my colleagues in Fianna Fál pick from their ranks to be Cathaoirleach a person who is dominated by that ambition. I blame Fianna Fáil for making that choice and I blame Senator Doherty for seeking the position in the first place. It has done us no good and has, in fact, considerably damaged this House. That decision did not uphold the dignity of this House and it did not serve any purpose.

No decision I have been involved in in this House brought me more negative reaction from acquaintances, constituents and people I met than to select Senator Seán Doherty as Cathaoirleach. I found enormous public resentment of the fact that an already less than important institution of the Oireachtas had made itself look even more ridiculous by the appointment as Cathaoirleach of a figure of such public odium as Senator Doherty.

I restrained myself at the time because I did not want to get involved, but Senator Doherty's handling of the Norris case was consistent with his record. It was a matter of considerable regret that the basic decencies of natural justice were lost not only on him but apparently on most if not all the members of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges until they were brought to their senses by the courts. It was not, let it be said, my colleague Senator Norris who brought this House to the High Court. Because of the committee's decision and because Senator Doherty withheld important legal advice, Senator Norris had to defend himself in High Court, a place where, preferably, the business of this House and the other House should not be carried out. Senator Norris was forced to bring this matter to the High Court because there was a flagrant breach of the rules of this House. This was obvious even to a lay person. Anyone who has been involved in a large organisation such as the GAA, even as a minor functionary, appreciates that there is due process for dealing with any breach of the regulations that nobody can ignore. Senator Doherty contributed to the demeaning of this House by doing that. I do not believe somebody who behaved like that could be described in anybody's book as a good Cathaoirleach. I am not going to deny what I said about Senator Doherty almost two years ago and say I regret his departure. I regret the personal pain but this House is the better for his going, and there should be no denying that.

We should move from personalities and look at the problems facing this country. One of these problems is the abuse of power. The abuse of power is not something that applies only to Senator Doherty or Fianna Fáil. The December 1982 Fine Gael-Labour programme for Government contained the following specific commitment: "A judicial inquiry will be established into allegations of political interference with gardaí with terms of reference covering the previous three years". That judicial inquiry was never established. It would be nice to hear from some member of that Government why that judicial inquiry never happened. It could have unravelled many abuses of power. Since it would have been convenient to tarnish Fianna Fáil, who had been in Government for a considerable period during the previous three years, one can only suspect that something which happened during the period Fine Gael and Labour were in Government and which they wanted to hide, prevented that judicial inquiry being held.

In 1974 or 1975 I had the dubious privilege of being followed home by a Special Branch man who sat outside my flat until 3 a.m. simply because I happened to come out of a public house they did not approve of. At that time also, a friend of mine was stopped at 1 a.m. and questioned as if he were in eastern Europe and asked where he was going by people who did not identify themselves as members of the Garda until they had completed their interrogation. I want to say to this House that abuses of power do not necessarily reside exclusively in the lap of Fianna Fáil. This country has a problem about not making institutions accountable. There is also a problem with all the political processes because it is believed that the only kind of power is power that does not have accountability. In fact, the only kind of acceptable power is accountable power.

I have watched the spectacle of some of my colleagues in Fianna Fáil pretending this is not a very serious issue, that they do not have a serious problem and that somehow the likes of me made life difficult for Senator Seán Doherty who is a decent man. I want to say to them that there used be be a decent organisation called Fianna Fáil, that I grew up in that decent organisation and that the values I stand for here are the values I learned when Fianna Fáil stood for something, when they stood for ordinary people. As I said here when the former Senator Willie Ryan was retiring, Fianna Fáil once stood for the values and interests of small people who had small problems, small families and small concerns, not big business, big money and magic circles. That is now the problem. Today that problem has been crystalised around the personalities of two men, one of whom is the ex-Cathaoirleach and the other the present Taoiseach. Between them they epitomise what has happened to Fianna Fáil. The ex-Cathaoirleach and the Prime Minister are involved in a public slanging match in which one called the other a liar. I do not really care at this stage who is telling the truth because as somebody said we will never know unless some mysterious witness comes out of the woodwork. The suggestion that that is somehow good for the country, that this is not an important issue or that it does not make a difference to the country, is among the most spurious distortions that could have ever been put before——

It was one of the Senator's colleagues who said that.

I am not particularly concerned who said it. I have no brief; Independent Senators are allowed to think and speak for themselves. If members of other parties were allowed to do the same we might have better politics in this country.

Much as I regret saying it, I cannot lament the departure of Senator Doherty from the position of Cathaoirleach. I look forward to a future when this House is noticed by the media not for its notoriety but for the hard work that is done when we change legislation to improve accountability, look after homeless children, declare the public interests of the director general of the Environmental Protection Agency and do the things legislators are supposed to do, but when one talks about these issues to journalists, their eyes glaze over and they lose interest. Politics should be about issues, policy and changing this country for the better. We could make a start by electing a good Cathaoirleach, and I hope we will do so tomorrow.

I do not agree with Senator Ryan when he said he did not lament the departure of Senator Doherty as Cathaoirleach. There is a human dimension to politics which must be stressed, and it has been stressed today by all Senators. From a human viewpoint I consider this is a sad day for Senator Doherty and his family. During my two and a half years here he extended courtesy to me. I did not know him very well, but from a personal viewpoint it is sad. I would like to thank him for the courtesy he extended to me.

I cannot say that the two-and-a-half years were notable for their constructiveness. Pehaps "disruptive" would be a more suitable word to apply to that time. It is significant that we returned from each session with the uneasy feeling that there might be another trauma, and we were never disappointed. Whether it was post-summer or post-Christmas, we entered again controversial periods which, obviously, were not good for politics in Ireland. Two-and-a-half years of such ups and downs cannot be good.

Having heard both statements I have to say, like many speakers today, that I do not know who to believe. First, there is an obvious conflict of evidence. The general public will believe neither statement, and possibly that is the consensus today. The public feel there is a specific code of conduct in politics which allows for stretching, twisting and bending the truth, and that is not a very good example for our young people who are so cynical now. Whether in local politics or national politics, it will be a long time before the people of Ireland have confidence again in public representatives, and we are all tarred with the same brush regardless of political parties.

Neither Senator Doherty or the Taoiseach should hold office as a result of the disclosures and the conflicts that have resulted from the two statements over the last few days. It is reasonable to say that Senator Doherty has done the honourable thing in resigning. The holder of the highest office in the land after the President, the Taoiseach, Deputy Charles Haughey, should follow suit. He should not decide to stay for some weeks, months or years but should follow the example of Senator Doherty and resign immediately. If he did that there would be quite a number of relieved Senators who today in their responses said what we would expect them to say about their colleague, but they very definitely have felt embarrassed, disappointed and a sense of shame at what has happened in the last few days.

The reputation of the leadership of the Government has been brought into question and that has a negative effect on the country. The Taoiseach made great play of the fact that he was going to resign, possibly after the Masstricht Summit, but that did not happen. If one went through international newspapers, for example, The Sunday Times and others further afield, during the last six months one would see that the two major stories carried on Ireland were of public scandals and inquiries and IRA atrocities. Obviously, that is an international image we could well do without. The business community here have lost confidence in the Government and young and old have a very cynical view of politics and all politicians. That is very sad.

A question has to be asked as to the ability or the determination of the Government to tackle major problems. This is not a debate on unemployment, but in the media the scandals of recent times have been given prominence over the plight of the 300,000 people unemployed. When I mention scandals obviously leadership pushes and heaves are an integral part of them.

When we talk of leadership the question of who should lead Fianna Fáil is largely irrelevant; what is more important is who should lead the country. At present there are many questions relating to the leadership. A leader must have cohesive support but this is not evident at present. One of the hallmarks of leadership is credibility. There must be full confidence in the leader. Now that we have had the honourable example of Senator Doherty resigning, Fianna Fail Senators feel embarrassed, any sense of shame or embarrassment can be erased by demanding a vote for a new leader. Then Seanad Éireann could at least get on with the business we were elected to do.

With the permission of the House I should like to share my time with Senator O'Reilly. I am staggered by the tone of this debate in some quarters. I welcome without equivocation the resignation of Senator Doherty. I find it rather disingenuous to listen to the tributes being paid to him by members of Fianna Fáil. Senator Doherty's resignation has relieved them of an enormous embarrassment, an albatross which has been hanging around their necks for many years, ever since he was elected Cathaoirleach. For members of the Government party to say they regret his departure and to pay tribute to him when everybody knows the Cathaoirleach was a great embarrassment is something I find very difficult to understand.

That is not true.

I accuse the Fianna Fáil Party of weeping crocodile tears for Senator Doherty today. They are relieved he has gone and that they will possibly have less of an embarrassment in the Chair from now on. I do not accept the almost funeral attitude of the Fianna Fáil Senators to this matter, the inevitability of paying tribute to someone when they resign. Senator Doherty was, to my mind, patently unfit for the post of Cathaoirleach from start to finish. It is certainly history that he was involved in the telephone tapping — that is on his own word and that is accepted. He had questions to answer also about his role in other areas in Justice such as the Dowra affair. I do not believe we can, with any honesty, pay tribute to him and say he was a good Cathaoirleach. He was not a good Cathaoirleach. I do not believe, in terms of the country, that it matters two hoots whether he was telling the truth or whether the Taoiseach was telling the truth. What happened is that two men who had gone so far up the ladder together and assisted each other's career have fallen out.

I agree with what my Leader, Senator Manning, said so rightly earlier, that it is now the time to look at the position of the Taoiseach, not just because of the scandals we have endured, the finger that is being pointed and the questions he had to answer but because of his direct involvement in Senator Doherty's career. It was the Taoiseach who allowed or promoted Senator Doherty to Cathaoirleach of the Seanad when he could have stopped Senator Doherty's appointment. Traditionally the Taoiseach has had a major influence, if not a deciding influence on who becomes Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. The Taoiseach allowed Senator Doherty to take that extraordinarily sensitive post in this House. It was the Taoiseach who, when a motion of confidence was debated in this House less than two years ago, failed to give any signal to the Fianna Fáil. Members of this House that Senator Doherty was unsuited for office at that time. The House needs very little reminding that at that time Senator Doherty had concealed vital evidence from the Members of this House. It is well known that many members of the Fianna Fáil Party wanted to dump him on that occasion. Many of them looked to the Taoiseach for a lead on that occasion. They looked to him to get instructions to dump Senator Doherty and no such signal was forthcoming. Senator Doherty survived when the Taoiseach obviously knew that he was unfit for office. What is happening today and what has been happening in recent months is that we are seeing the final kick of politicians who are basically yesterday's men with yesterday's standards. It is not just the series of extraordinary revelations, it is the complete public dissatisfaction with activities like those of Senator Doherty and of the Taoiseach which make it essential that the Taoiseach should resign in the wake of the appalling incident which has happened.

I would like to ask a serious political question. What are the Progressive Democrats about to do on this occasion?

Acting Chairman

The Senator agreed to share his time with Senator O'Reilly which would give each speaker seven minutes.

I will give him a minute or two less.

Acting Chairman

May I explain that I will have to call a speaker from the other side of the House for a couple of minutes and I will then return to Senator O'Reilly.

I will be very brief. It is absolutely imperative that we do not allow the Progressive Democrats off the hook on this issue even if, at this stage, they put the gun to the Government's head. The Progressive Democrats have shored up the Government for the past two years when it was known that the integrity of the Government was in question. It is not good enough for them when they are confronted with the facts as put before us, to withdraw from Government when for at least six months public unease about the integrity of the Taoiseach and the Government has been rife. On each occasion they found an excuse to stay in Government.

I will be brief. I have known Senator Doherty as a political and party colleague for almost 20 years. I served with him as a member of Roscommon County Council for 17 years. I know his wife, his children, his brothers and sisters; I knew his late father and I know his mother. I regret that this further trauma has arisen for all of them. Senator Doherty is no stranger to controversy but I was dumbfounded when I heard the content of Senator Doherty's statement last night. On a personal basis, I was saddened by his announcement that he had decided to submit his resignation as Cathaoirleach. He was an efficient, courteous and helpful Cathaoirleach and I wish him well for the future.

I have always found Senator Doherty to be courteous in the Chair and I wish him well on a personal level in his future career, wherever it may be. I wish to progress from that to a fundamental point. When one looks at the statement of Senator Doherty after the chain of events in recent weeks and, indeed, at the Taoiseach's statement today, all one can reasonably conclude is that the Government can no longer stay in office. There is too much of a stain on the Government's performance. Outside of Leinster House, the ordinary people have become cynical and alienated from politics. People no longer believe in the political process, or that we are serious about delivering on jobs, on the economy or on social issues.

It is time for a general election. We urgently need a general election to clear the air. It should result in the election of a Government who will have the respect and confidence of the people. As a result of the recent chain of events not only has our and the Government's reputations been damaged here but our reputation has been damaged internationally. I was shocked and embarrassed to hear the BBC World Service and BBC 4 treatment of the Irish political scandals. It is clear we are going to be either the object of a lack of respect or the object of scorn internationally. That is a very sad for the country.

What should be done — and I direct this specifically at the Progressive Democrats' Leader, Deputy O'Malley, at the people concerned in the Government parties and at the Members across the floor of the House — is that this matter be brought to a head. I know the public are not fond of elections and would want us to do our business, but in present circumstances we have no option but to call a general election to steady the ship of State and get back to the real agenda which must be the creation of jobs. It is wrong not to look at the matter in this way. Otherwise the level of cynicism rampant in this country will put the whole democratic process in danger.

While Senator Doherty was Cathaoirleach I always found him to be a humorous, generous, kind and courteous person. I concur with some of the statements made earlier that most of today's discussion was a complete and utter waste of time and that we should have been dealing with other business.

Acting Chairman

We agreed to conclude this business at 5.30 p.m. I must put the question.

Is there no chance that Senator Doherty could be asked to reconsider his resignation in view of the high expression of esteem from the Fianna Fáil benches?

Question put and agreed to.