Address to Seanad Éireann by An Taoiseach: Motion

I move:

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders relative to Public Business, the proceedings in respect of the Statement by An Taoiseach on Thursday, 18th November, 2021, shall commence at 1.30 p.m. and shall conclude no later than 3 p.m., and shall consist of:

(a) a speech of welcome by the Cathaoirleach which shall not exceed 4 minutes;

(b) an opening Statement by An Taoiseach which shall not exceed 10 minutes;

(c) a contribution by the Leader of the House which shall not exceed 5 minutes;

(d) a contribution not exceeding 4 minutes by other Group Leaders (time may be shared);

(e) a contribution not exceeding 3 minutes by other Senators (time may be shared);

(f) a concluding response of not less than 10 minutes by An Taoiseach;

(g) a speech of thanks by the Leas-Chathaoirleach which shall not exceed 2 minutes.”

What will the capacity be?

It will be the chequerboard seating, so every second seat, plus the Galleries.

How many Members can come into the House on Thursday?

It is 30 for the Chamber, and another 14 for the Gallery and the outside.

So not every Member of the House can be present in the Gallery or the Chamber for the address of the Taoiseach on Thursday.

They can all be present.

Can 60 people be here, in all parts of the House?

There will be 30 here, 19 in the Gallery, and the standing spots.

Will people be standing at the back wall?

Yes, if 60 turn up.

Is the Cathaoirleach allowing people to stand at the back of the Chamber?

Yes. The plan has been circulated to the Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight.

Is that advisable, given the announcement by the Government today about reducing socialising?

We will discuss it at the Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight meeting tomorrow. We will go through that.

We should be careful on Thursday about the address of the Taoiseach-----

----both for the man himself and the office he holds, but also for us as the Upper House, with regard to the number of people coming into the House, given what has happened today with the changes announced by Government. I ask that the Cathaoirleach and Leader engage not with the Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight but with all of us.

I would be unhappy that Senators would have to stand at the back wall. It would be unfair to An Taoiseach for us to do that and it would also be unfair from a public health perspective. We have windows open today, which is good and it is welcome that we have ventilation but I would not be happy for us to have Senators standing at the back wall. The Cathaoirleach should engage with An Taoiseach and his office in the context of his address to our House on Thursday.

We will do that.

Question put and agreed to.