Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 12 Dec 1934

Vol. 19 No. 8

Election of Cathaoirleach.


The next business on the Order Paper is the election of a Cathaoirleach for the coming term. Any Senator may move that Senator So-and-so, naming him, be elected and do take the Chair of the Seanad as Cathaoirleach. This motion must be seconded. Should only one Senator be proposed, I shall put the question forthwith. If two Senators be proposed, a division will be taken between them. If more than two Senators be proposed, the procedure laid down in the Standing Orders will be followed.

I should like to emphasise that no debate can be allowed, but, according to precedent, a short speech may be made by the proposer of the candidate or candidates if he sees fit. The seconding must be purely formal. I call upon Senator MacLoughlin.

I beg to propose that Senator Thomas William Westropp Bennett be elected as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad and do now take the Chair. It was my privilege to propose the first Cathaoirleach of this Assembly. Some of my colleagues, with a sombre and lugubrious sense of the fitness of things, think it meet that I should have the honour of proposing the last Chairman of this House. I, therefore, submit for the Chairmanship the name of Senator Thomas William Westropp Bennett, who has presided over the deliberations of this Assembly for the past six years with dignity, discretion, and, despite all assertions to the contrary, a fine impartiality. Not the least of the services which Senator Bennett rendered to this House was on the occasion when he stepped down from the Chair and defended with courage and ability the rights of this Seanad and corrected the misapprehensions and misrepresentations of those who would destroy it.

I do not know whether it is proposed to contest Senator Bennett's claim to the Chairmanship. In my humble home away in the fastnesses of Donegal I read with amusement last week of the conflict of opinion amongst our friends, the supporters of the Government, as to the candidate to be put forward on their behalf for the Chairmanship. I was under the impression that our friends held this House in such contempt——


I beg your pardon, Senator. This is not relevant to the proposal. This is a matter that is quite foreign to the occasion. You must stick to the subject matter of your proposal. I do not want to hear anything about anybody else.

Surely I may give the reasons why Senator Bennett should be elected? I am giving those reasons and I want to point out the inconsistency of our friends in the event of their proposing another candidate. By doing so they would be definitely inconsistent. They are pining for the extermination of this House in the interests, as they say, of the nation, but notwithstanding their desire for the abolition of the Seanad, our friends seem to be inexplicably anxious to add to its dignity by proposing that one of their number should take the Chair. I can only assume that their anxiety is due to a very laudable desire on their part to add to the respectability and decorum of the wake. I do not know that even the satisfaction of having the obsequies presided over by a Fianna Fáil Senator——

On a point of order. Does this speech come under the terms you laid down just now in reference to speaking to the proposal?


Senator MacLoughlin, I am getting a little uncertain. You are proposing the election of Senator Bennett and you must not speak about anybody else. I must ask you to confine yourself simply and solely to the reasons why he should be elected and not to give reasons why anybody else should not be brought forward.

Very well. I was merely going to say that I did not think that the satisfaction of having the obsequies of this House presided over by a Fianna Fáil Senator, even a Senator of the unimpeachable idealism of Senator Comyn, would repay us for the loss of Senator Bennett. I have great pleasure in proposing that Senator Bennett be elected, and I hope the majority of the Government Party will acquiesce in this proposition, if only to demonstrate in a practical way the utter contempt in which they hold the House, for whose annihilation they have voted.

I beg to second the motion proposed by Senator MacLoughlin, namely, that Senator Bennett be elected Cathaoirleach of this House.

On a matter of information. I am not cavilling in the least at what you have stated in reference to speeches, but you said——


Is this a question, or a point of order?

Well, information and help.


Ask for the information.

The information is this. You have stated that Senator MacLoughlin was entitled to give his reasons why the motion before the Chair should be passed. The question I wish to ask is, am I entitled to give my reasons——


No, I have ruled on that already. Sit down.

Perhaps it is just as well.


Will you sit down, Sir!

I move that Senator Michael Comyn be elected and do now take the Chair as Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. I understood it would be merely a formal proposition and I was anxious as nearly as possible to keep to that. In view, however, of the fact that Senator MacLoughlin has mentioned one or two things reflecting on the Party, I just want to say that, whatever our view is, it must be recognised that while we were in this House we admitted that the House still existed and accordingly we tried to conform to the rules governing the House. I do not want to make any special eulogy in relation to Senator Comyn's qualifications for the position of Cathaoirleach. Senator Comyn has been six years a member of the Seanad. His experience and reputation as a lawyer in my opinion fit him to occupy the position. I think that he would be quite competent, equally competent to any of his predecessors, to interpret the rules governing the House and to keep people in order. The one thing I would hope for would be that he would show such impartiality that when he would be in the Chair he would stay in the Chair. I have great pleasure in moving that Senator Comyn be elected.

I beg to second the proposal that Senator Comyn be elected Cathaoirleach of the Seanad.

I have nothing more to say than just that.


As there are only two candidates, a Division will be taken between them.

The Seanad divided, the voting being: For Senator Bennett, 28; For Senator Comyn, 28.

For Senator T. Westropp Bennett.

For Senator Michael Comyn, K.C.

Bagwell, John.Barniville, Dr. Henry L.Baxter, Patrick F.Bigger, Sir Edward Coey.Blythe, Ernest.Brown, Samuel L., K.C.Browne, Miss Kathleen.Counihan, John C.Dillon, James.Douglas, James G.Duggan, E.J.Fanning, Michael.Garahan, Hugh.Gogarty, Dr. O. St. J.Griffith, Sir John Purser.Jameson, Right Hon. Andrew.Kennedy, Cornelius.McGillycuddy of the Reeks, The.MacLoughlin, John.Milroy, Seán.O'Connor, Joseph.O'Hanlon, M. F.O'Rourke, Brian.O'Sullivan, Dr. William.Parkinson, James J.Staines, Michael.Toal, Thomas.Wilson, Richard.

Bellingham, Sir Edward.Boyle, James J.Chléirigh, Caitlín Bean Uí.Connolly, Joseph.Cummins, William.Dowdall, J.C.Duffy, Michael.Farren, Thomas.Fitzgerald, Séamus.Foran, Thomas.Healy, Denis D.Honan, Thomas V.Johnson, Thomas.Kennedy, Thomas.Keyes, Raphael P.Linehan, Thomas.Lynch, Patrick, K.C.MacEllin, Seán E.MacParland, D.H.Moore, Colonel.O'Farrell, John T.O Máille, Pádraic.O'Neill, L.Phaoraigh, Siobhán Bean an.Quirke, William.Robinson, David L.Robinson, Séumas.Ruane, Thomas.

Tellers:—For Senator T. Westropp Bennett: Senators Wilson and Staines; For Senator M. Comyn: Senators Séumas Robinson and David Robinson.


I have my casting vote, and as, if I had been in the House, I should have voted for Senator Bennett, I give him my vote now.

The same old die-hard!


I declare Senator Bennett elected, and ask him to take the Chair.

Mr. Bennett took the Chair as Cathaoirleach.

Fellow Senators, one cannot help, at a moment like this, feeling some natural excitement and hesitation in saying anything, but to those who supported me and to those who did not support me, I extend my heartfelt thanks. The division, apparently, was purely on political lines, and I think it was political affiliations rather than personal likes or dislikes which secured the vote which has occurred. In the past, I have always secured the co-operation of every section of the House, and I hope I may count on it in the future. Let our stay here be long or short, we will work, as we have ever worked, for the improvement of our country, and I feel that, in that, the new members and the old members will heartily co-operate. I thank you all sincerely.