Business of Seanad

We have listened attentively now for more than 18 hours. There is repetition and a filibuster in my opinion.

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business. I propose that Committee Stage of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Bill 2009 shall conclude at 4.30 p.m.; that there shall be a sos from 4.30 p.m. until 5 p.m.; and that Report and Final Stages shall conclude not later than 6 p.m.

Outrageous. It is an attack on democracy.

I understand the Leader's motivations. I do not like the notion of guillotining any debate.

I have never guillotined before.

This has become an exercise in absurdity. It has been suggested that this has been a wonderful debate. However, I think it has been awful, meaningless and futile. There has been repetition and arguments advanced which have not been explained, do not relate to amendments proposed and are entirely repetitive. We need to do something to curtail the debate and bring it to finality.

I would be very reluctant to support a guillotine. However, it should be possible to take out all the repetitive amendments and deal only with any contentious ones. I do not like to stifle debate. It is imperative that we get on with this. Let us consider the good faith or bad faith of some of the people on the other side. Senators Mullen and Quinn have opposed 64 sections of the Bill.

They are perfectly entitled to do so, but that——

That has nothing to do with the proposed change to the Order of Business.

——does not suggest they want to get the Bill passed. The amendments they have tabled would stand the entire principle of the legislation on its head.

I ask Senator Norris to resume his seat. I call Senator Bacik.

Let us go ahead and discuss the essential issues and let us finish the job.

No one wants to stifle debate, including those of us in the Labour Party. We have genuine amendments tabled on which I was looking forward to engaging with the Minister. I believe we had a constructive debate on the very important amendments on children's rights last night and on what we see as a major flaw in the Bill, the lack of recognition for children. However, we have not had genuine debate in the past four hours, but an attempt to disrupt and filibuster the passing of this important legislation——

That is not true.

—— on which the vast majority of Members of the House are agreed. That is what we have seen today.

This is a new low. I had planned to express regret that Senator Regan repeated the calumny that some of these amendments came from hostility to gay or lesbian couples. I am surprised that he could not get the basic point that there is a world of distinction between having opposition, hostility or disregard to gay and lesbian couples and having a moral view on public recognition for same-sex relationships——

The Senator has not explained it.

——and going further to have a moral view that other people are entitled to their moral view. It does not surprise me that he has spoken in support of the guillotine, particularly given that the leader of his party wants to abolish the Seanad. The Leader is contributing to the contempt in which the Seanad is held by so many members of the public.


When he does not like the arguments he is hearing, he seeks to close down the debate. The Labour Party and Fine Gael will be complicit with his attempt to close down the debate in the Senate.

That is some persecution complex.

It is a disgrace.

I am very disappointed that we are where we are. I think that some of the contributions could have been more concise——

That is an understatement.

——but I am still disappointed there has to be a guillotine. We could have moved very quickly through some of the other sections. I accept that this is the reality. However, I wanted to mention that there is a possible constitutional difficulty in section 173.

We are not dealing with that. I cannot let the Senator in on it.

I accept that, but the point is that I cannot get to speak about what I think is a constitutional difficulty for the right of existing children——

We are dealing with the change to the Order of Business. I call Senator Walsh.

I accept that, but we will not get to it.

The reply from the Minister would certainly determine my views on this section. Would it be possible to re-enter amendments Nos. 32 and 59 on Report Stage if we finish with Committee Stage? I think amendment No. 32 may have constitutional implications. It engages my mind about disadvantaging the family.

The only thing before me is a change to the Order of Business and there are many Members who want to contribute. The only thing I can do is put the question. Is the change to the Order of Business agreed? Agreed.