Business of Seanad

Before we move on to the business of the day, the Cathaoirleach will note that I have tabled a motion under Standing Order 190 seeking a debate on the GRECO report. The Minister advised the House when we was last here that he had not read it. That information came on 3 July. The report was finally agreed for publication on 27 June. We have a copy of it. This means that either the Minister did not read it before it was published or he allowed someone in his Department to sign off on something that was damning of this Bill.

I am allowing the Senator to raise the issue, but I will not allow him to have a debate on the GRECO report. I do not want him to start a lengthy speech. At this stage, we are all well aware of the issue he is raising, so he should be as brief as he can. Given the importance of the issue, I have allowed the Senator to raise it under Standing Order 190, but I do not want a full debate on it. The Senator can make his point.

In light of points 35 and 36 of the report, it is clear that GRECO is not happy with this Bill. More importantly,-----

I see hands being lifted, but the only person who raised this matter and laid it before me last Friday was Senator Craughwell, so no one else is entitled to speak. It is strictly the Senator's matter.

We raised this matter as well.

No, this relates to a specific Member. I must be strict on that. I will ask the Leader to respond to him.

May I ask the Cathaoirleach for his guidance? Did the Cathaoirleach mean that Senator Craughwell was the only person who had raised the GRECO report?

No. He is the only person who can contribute on it today because he put his name to a certain motion, which-----

Hold on a second. I should actually have had four days' notice of the motion, but because Senator Craughwell felt this was important and in light of the time constraints involved - the matter was raised on Thursday and the Senator brought the motion to my attention on Friday - he is the only person who can speak on it today.

I thank the Cathaoirleach for the elucidation.

To clarify, my understanding is that three Labour Party Senators also signed that motion.

The motion is not being moved. That is the difficulty.

They did sign it, though.

I am only allowing Senator Craughwell briefly, but the time is getting less brief as the interventions are made.

I appreciate the Cathaoirleach's position and thank him for allowing time. One of the key issues emerging from the GRECO report relates to the Government's claim that there had been interaction at the highest possible level with the Judiciary on this Bill. Clearly, GRECO does not agree. Points 35 and 36 of the report are damning of the legislation.

I accept that the Minister would not mislead the House deliberately, so it is important that we get to the bottom of who knew what and when about the GRECO report.

I must stop the Senator at this juncture. We spoke about the GRECO report for almost three days last week, so I will allow the Leader and no one else to contribute. I am sorry, but I have to make that ruling. The Leader will respond to Senator Craughwell. The business of the day has been decided, but I will allow the Leader to speak. He has the discretion to accept the Senator's motion and hold a debate on it if he so desires.

I would ask him to do that.

I acknowledge that the Cathaoirleach has waived the four-day notice period. Like many Members, Senator Craughwell has attended for nearly four weeks. The dogs on the street know of GRECO at this stage. We have had more discussion about the GRECO report than the GRECO report itself. I am satisfied that we agreed the Order of Business-----

Were those the same dogs that had the dinner?

They are the same dogs that Senator Norris is barking with every day.


Please, allow the Leader to continue.

There has been much commentary about the Bill. The programme for Government committed to a new judicial appointments Bill. There was pre-legislative scrutiny and a change in Ministers for Justice and Equality. The current Minister has made changes to the Bill and engaged concertedly and extensively on it. I am satisfied that what we have proposed and agreed will allow us to address-----

We will be able to address the areas of concern outlined by the Members. I am happy that-----

In a nutshell, is the Leader accepting-----

By way of clarification, I did not waive the time limit, I allowed it to be abridged under the circumstances. Senator Craughwell has made his point and the Leader has responded. Under Standing Order 26, I have no choice but to proceed with the business as set out by the Leader and agreed last Thursday.

It was agreed by the House last Thursday.

I thank the Cathaoirleach and the Leader for waiving the four-day rule. I am aware of it but time did not allow for four days' notice. We only received the GRECO report on Thursday and we were obliged to seek answers. The Minister told me I would be disappointed, but I was not at all disappointed in what I found in the report.

On a point of information, the GRECO report was published in draft format. There was an opportunity for Government to engage and it did. Clarifications were sought and other information was given following which amendments were proposed to the Bill by the Minister. I refer Senators to the draft Bill and the final draft of the GRECO report. I ask Members to read the draft and amended reports. We all have a copy of it. If Opposition Members want to prolong the debate, that is their prerogative. The Order of Business was agreed in good faith at the leaders' meeting and following votes in the House last week.

May I correct the Leader, please. I have yet to receive a copy of the GRECO report in my pigeonhole from the Government. I got my copy of it from another member of the Seanad. I did not get it from the Leader.


Senators, please.

I want the record corrected to show that we did not get the GRECO report from the Government.

I did not say that.

Senator Norris, I am sure if other members-----

We did not get it, as promised, in our pigeonholes.

I never said that.

Senator Norris is not a party to this matter. The Leader has made a ruling and this matter is at an end.

Senator Norris is filibustering again. I never said that; he should check the record.

If the Leader thinks that is filibustering, he should wait to see what is coming.

I know what is coming. I hear it every day.

I ask the Leader to refrain from further comment. He has made his ruling. This matter is now at an end. The Senator will have an opportunity on the Order of Business tomorrow to raise it again.

If Senators continue, I will have to adjourn the House for an hour.

We might have to support an adjournment.

I have been very fair to Senator Craughwell. There were only two people allowed to speak: Senator Craughwell who proposed the motion brought to my attention last Friday and the Leader in response. The Leader is not accepting the Senator's request, which is his prerogative. We are moving on to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017, amendment No. 22.

May I ask why the Government has not sent us the GRECO report? It is central to this debate.

I ask the Senator to please not annoy the Chair.

A Chathaoirligh, we need to raise serious concerns on behalf of the Fianna Fáil group. The Leader said the concerns that GRECO had been-----

Hold on a second. The Senator is not allowed in at this juncture. I have made a ruling.

I am sorry but I need to address the concerns of-----

I am not allowing the Senator to do so. She should respect the Chair and resume her seat.

The Fianna Fáil group has asked that these concerns be addressed.

The Senator should resume her seat.

The Leader of the House-----

I ask the Senator to resume her seat.

There are serious concerns to be raised.

I have asked the Senator to respect the Chair and resume her seat.

Point 35 has not be rejected.

I cannot allow people to comment willy-nilly. I have to be fair to all sides. I could have ruled Senator Craughwell out of order but I gave him a brief opportunity to raise the issue and then others jumped on the bandwagon.

We all accept that the Cathaoirleach is very fair in his ruling.

I have to be fair otherwise we will have mayhem.