I have to explain the difficult position that has arisen in connection with the pending election to the existing vacancy in the Seanad. As a matter of fact, there is no candidate who has been duly nominated in accordance with our Standing Orders. Nomination papers purporting to nominate, were received on behalf of four candidates. One was the Earl of Ossory. I may dispose of his nomination at once by saying that he is disqualified by the Constitution, because he is not yet thirty-five years of age. He will not have reached that age until April next, so that he is disqualified per se. A nomination paper, also purporting to nominate, was received on behalf of Sir Walter Nugent. I may also dispose of him by saying that, although his papers were not quite in proper form, I have received a letter from him withdrawing his candidature on the grounds that his obligations, to certain companies of which he is a director, would preclude him from giving sufficient time to the duties of a Senator. He has withdrawn his name and is no longer a candidate. A nomination paper, purporting to nominate, was also received on behalf of Sir Simon Maddock. In his case I may say that every irregularity that could be committed was committed in connection with his nomination. Under our Standing Orders a Senator who nominates a candidate—I would ask Senators to study the Standing Orders so that this may not occur in the future, because they are really quite simple and quite capable of being intelligently understood—shall, in the notice, give not only the full name, but also the address of the candidate. It shall also contain his qualifications, and the Senator who nominates must, at the same time, lodge the consent, in writing, of the candidate to act, if elected. In the case of Sir Simon Maddock's nomination what happened was this: A letter purporting to nominate him was received from Senator Gogarty on the 13th January. That letter gave no address. It did not state the qualifications of the candidate, and it was not accompanied by any consent, in writing, on his part to act, if elected. Senator Gogarty left the country that day and went abroad. Consequently, it was impossible to get into communication with him. There was, therefore, no opportunity to rectify these errors. Even if the Senator had been here, the errors could not be rectified, because all these things must be done at the one time. The notice must comply with all these conditions at the time it is sent in. The only remaining nomination, then, was that which purported to nominate Dr. Douglas Hyde, and that nomination was defective in two particulars. It failed to give any address or to give any qualifications. Consequently, under the Standing Orders, if this matter stood over until Wednesday next, I would be compelled to inform the Seanad that I had received no nomination on behalf of any candidate. I will just read to the Seanad the Standing Orders that deal with it:—
"Within seven days from the date of the fixing of the election"—that was from the 9th December—"any Senator may, by notice in writing signed by him and delivered to the Clerk, nominate a candidate. Every such notice must contain the full name, address, and qualifications of the candidate, and be accompanied by a consent in writing over his signature to act, if elected."
Therefore, you see the provisions of the Standing Orders are mandatory, and no discretion is left to me in their interpretation or in their relaxation. That is made very clear by the next Standing Order, which says:—
"Upon the appointed day the Cathaoirleach shall read out the name, address, and qualifications of every candidate who has been duly nominated in accordance with the foregoing Order."
Therefore, if I left this matter to stand over until Wednesday next, I would have to rise in my place and say that no candidate had been duly nominated in accordance with the foregoing Order. The question, now, is how is the position to be dealt with. Technically speaking, and I think legally speaking, the election has proved abortive. Perhaps the strictest way to deal with it would be for the Seanad to pass a resolution prescribing that a new election take place, and that all the formalities be gone through. An alternative course would be for the Seanad to suspend these two Standing Orders, and to extend the time for receiving nominations up to next Wednesday. In the case of the two gentlemen whose names are before the Seanad, if that were done it would enable their proposers to bring in nomination papers in the meantime, which would be in accordance with Standing Orders, and in that way then their names would be eligible to be submitted for ballot on this day week. That, as I say, would require a resolution of the Seanad suspending the two Standing Orders and extending the time for receiving nominations up to next Wednesday. If any Senator desires to do that, I will accept a motion of that kind, and if not, I see no other alternative than to proceed with the holding of this election de novo.