Yesterday, the Seanad met for the first time since Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny proposed the abolition of the Upper House. Unfortunately, due to a prior commitment, I only got to put forward my view at this morning’s Order of Business. Below is a transcript of my contribution:
Senator Alex White: I wish to comment briefly on the issues which exercised Members yesterday. I listened to the proceedings on the radio in my car and what I heard was quite bleak. It pains me to say it.
Senator David Norris: We missed the Senator.
Senator Alex White: Over and over again, Members were exploding with indignation. I include in that the Senator who has just—–
Senator Paschal Donohoe: Exploded.
Senator Alex White: Yes.
Senator David Norris: If that was an explosion—–
An Cathaoirleach: Members should cease interrupting. There should not be a repeat of what occurred yesterday.
Senator Alex White: There is a serious point to be made in respect of this matter. It was stated on the radio a few moments ago that in the eyes of many members of the public, the show was over for the Seanad.
It may seem I am adopting a holier-than-thou attitude. However, I accept that I am sometimes not behind the door in interrupting other Members.
Senator Terry Leyden: Why was the Senator not present yesterday?
Senator Alex White: Members of Parliament should have a better sense of what—–
Senator Terry Leyden: The Senator should have been here.
Senator Alex White: This is another example of that to which I am referring.
An Cathaoirleach: Senator Leyden should not interrupt. This type of behaviour marked yesterday’s proceedings.
Senator Alex White: People who have been Members of Parliament for 20 years or more do not appear to be able to act with a basic level of decorum.
Senator Paschal Donohoe: At least we were here.
Senator Frances Fitzgerald: Yes, we were.
A Senator: Please allow the Senator to finish.
Senator Alex White: During yesterday’s proceedings Senator Regan took the opportunity to misquote me. I never stated this House served no useful purpose. I am not a supporter or member of the Fine Gael Party. However, for Senator O’Toole to describe what seems to be a genuine proposal that we consider the concept of institutional reform – including as it relates to this House – as harking back to the 1930s is so absurd as to draw the level of debate so far down that said debate is almost not worth having.