Without being parochial, I pay a warm tribute to the Chair on his retirement. He and I come from the same part of the country and served locally together in public life. At times we have had debates and arguments, but we have always been good friends and respected each other's point of view. I pay tribute to him for his work over the last five years as Cathaoirleach. He has brought nothing but respect and dignity to the House in the way he has carried out his work. I say that genuinely because he has done an excellent job and whoever replaces him will have a huge act to follow. I pay him every tribute and give him every thanks.
I also join in the welcome given to the new Members, Senators O'Rourke and Mackin. Senator O'Rourke often came to the House as a Minister and though we often had clashes, of all the Cabinet Ministers who came to the House over the last five years she was the one who paid the greatest attention to what Members had to say. She dealt in great detail with the amendments we brought forward whether she agreed or disagreed with them. She always engaged in the debate in a real way for which I thank her, though we often disagreed. I said publicly at the time that it was a matter of great regret that she lost her Dáil seat, but she is very welcome to this House.
Regarding the other retiring Members, one can get into an invidious situation when naming people, but I have been deputy leader under Senator Manning for the last five years and he has made a most distinguished contribution to this House. He has been articulate and spoken eloquently on a range of issues. He was well informed on every piece of legislation that came before the House and made some wonderful contributions. It is a matter of regret that the House is to lose somebody of his calibre and character. I wish him well as I do all the others who are leaving us on this occasion. Each one of them made an excellent contribution.
We are often the subject of criticism. Recently I listened to a radio programme in relation to this House when a not only misinformed but downright ignorant comment was made about the House by people I have never seen in the press gallery or in the Visitors Gallery. That is taken as gospel because it is put out on an important current affairs programme by the public service broadcaster. We are not good enough at standing up for ourselves. I am a veteran of 20 years in these Houses, ten years spent in the other House and ten years in this House. The quality of debate and the level of participation by Members here is much greater than in the Lower House. The proportion of Senators who contribute in a meaningful way to legislation is much greater than the proportion of Members in the other House who make a contribution to legislation. Often we draw back from making that point about the role we play. The level of debate and analysis of legislation is much greater here than in the other House. We ought to say that a little more often about ourselves and not be ashamed to say it.
I thank you, a Chathaoirligh, for the opportunity to make these points. I wish you well and thank you for the contribution you have made.