Seanad Éireann - Volume 6 - 09 December, 1925

ELECTION OF CHAIRMAN.

CATHAOIRLEACH: The next business is the election of a Chairman for the ensuing triennial period.

Mr. MacLOUGHLIN: I rise——

[2] CATHAOIRLEACH: I understand, Senator, that you are doing me the honour of proposing me for re-election?

Mr. MacLOUGHLIN: Yes.

CATHAOIRLEACH: In that case, I have to vacate the Chair, and it will be necessary for the Seanad to appoint someone to act as Chairman while the election is taking place.

Dr. O'SULLIVAN: I beg to propose that Senator Andrew Jameson take the Chair during the election.

Sir NUGENT EVERARD: I beg to second.

Question put and agreed to.

Lord GLENAVY then vacated the Chair, which was taken by Senator Jameson.

Mr. BENNETT: Before the election is proceeded with, I desire to draw the attention of the Seanad to Standing Order No. 2, which makes provision for the holding of the election and which reads:—“The Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach shall be appointed at the first meeting of the Seanad to be held after each triennial election of members of the Seanad, unless the Seanad shall by resolution otherwise determine.” I have been asked by some Senators to suggest, for the approval of the House, that as we did on a previous occasion we should do on this, namely, elect the Cathaoirleach and the Leas-Chathaoirleach for the term of a year.

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: I would point out to the Senator that I have been moved to the Chair for one purpose, [3] and one purpose only, namely, to preside during the election of a Chairman. I do not think it is my duty to preside over anything except that election. I think, Senator, if you are going to make any statements, you will have to call on our previous Chairman to take the Chair.

Mr. BENNETT: I do not propose to make any speech.

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: As I have said, I have been moved to the Chair for one purpose, and that is to preside at the election of a Chairman, and I have no right to sit in the Chair except to deal with that particular matter.

Mr. BENNETT: I bow to your ruling.

Colonel MOORE: Would it be possible at a later stage to make that proposal?

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: I am here only for the one business—the election of a Chairman.

Mr. MacLOUGHLIN: I beg to propose the name of Lord Glenavy as Chairman of the Seanad for the next three years. In doing so, I would remind the Seanad that I moved a similar motion three years ago. I then stated that my object was to wipe out old political landmarks and to initiate a movement towards real peace and contentment throughout Ireland, based on a process of good-will and a realisation of the fact that we are all Irishmen, whether Catholic or Protestant, Nationalist or Unionist. I am aware that this gesture of mine was much derided and has been much criticised both then and since, and that in the opinion of many of my friends it has not materialised; but, notwithstanding derision and criticism, my faith is not the least shaken in it, and to-day I am more convinced than ever that if the experiment of self-government in this country is to be a success, and if this State is to make any advance towards stability and material prosperity, it can only be done by our rising superior to all old bogies and all old prejudices, and by substituting for racial and soctarian divisions the ideal of an Ireland [4] common to all parties and to which all can give allegiance.

Dr. GOGARTY: I think there was a ruling that, in the case of candidates for office, there were to be no speeches in proposing them. I think it was the late Chairman that made that very excellent ruling.

Mr. MacLOUGHLIN: If you are referring to previous occasions I might remind the Seanad that I made a speech on the last occasion I proposed Lord Glenavy, and I do not see why I should be out of order now.

Lord GLENAVY: I think Senator Dr. Gogarty is under a misapprehension. The rule that he refers to deals with elections to casual vacancies. I was satisfied that a strict interpretation of that rule contemplated that candidates were simply to be proposed and seconded, but I might point out that the rule had nothing to do with this election.

Mr. MacLOUGHLIN: Senator Gogarty should not be so jumpy. Surely he can stand what I am going to say. To-day it is more necessary than ever for us to get all Irishmen to work together. To-day it is more necessary than ever that we should turn down and turn a deaf ear to all those who attempt to put barriers in the way of co-operation either in the shape of old political shibboleths, or of iron-clad principles. No matter what is done elsewhere, no matter what is the force of the bad example shown us, we must be no party to such a degradation of the tone of our public life in this country as to choose men for our positions of honour and of trust by any other test than that of merit and capacity. I think that this Seanad has no reason to regret that it gave a lead to that policy at the outset of its career three years ago by the unanimous election of Lord Glenavy as Chairman.

I think that this House can congratulate itself in securing for its Chairman during the first trying period of its existence a man of the eminence and high judicial qualities of Lord Glenavy, who not only presided over our deliberations with wisdom and tact, but gave an example of courage and [5] pluck which should not be forgotten, because when we first met here, three years ago, the very existence of this House and of the Dáil was seriously threatened. Senators were especially singled out for attack, and we had to go about at the risk of our lives. Happily that campaign was thwarted and we can meet here to-day in peace and security, but if we can I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that no small factor in contributing to this result was the manner in which Senators, and especially the Senators drawn from the minority section of our countrymen, stood up to the threats of murder and the destruction of their homes and refused to be intimidated from accepting the invitation of our first native Government to take their place in the public life of the country. The moral effect of their courage then, when this infant State was staggering under the assault of its enemies, was immeasurable, and if to-day the Seanad is an important and valuable institution in the life of this nation it is due, to a great extent, to the moral courage and to the patriotic co-operation of those who were formerly divided from us, crowned by the manner in which our Chairman has at all times upheld the position and dignity of this House. I, therefore, ask the Seanad for a renewal of its confidence in Lord Glenavy, and I beg formally to move his re-election.

Sir JOHN GRIFFITH: I have great pleasure in seconding the motion. I am not going to make a speech; I simply say that to re-elect Lord Glenavy to the Chair is the very best thing we could do as a Senate. Lord Glenavy has acted in the Chair in a way that has won the confidence of the whole Senate. In the last three years he has been diligent in his attendance and in everything connected with the working of the Senate and for the interest of the Senate. In every case in which we have been attacked he has been our great prop of defence. I have great pleasure, therefore, in seconding the motion that he be re-elected Chairman.

Mr. MacKEAN: I have much pleasure in bringing forward the name [6] of Senator T. Westropp Bennett and in proposing that he be appointed Chairman for the next three years. Senator Westropp Bennett has been Chairman, at various times, of numerous boards in the country, and while so engaged he gained much knowledge of rural affairs and of national affairs which would be very practical in this House.

While proposing the name of Senator Westropp Bennett for the Chair I do not, in any way, of course, detract from the great merits of Lord Glenavy. Lord Glenavy is a man of commanding intellect, of great legal knowledge and of special knowledge of constitutional law, and is, undoubtedly, capable of taking the onerous responsibility of the Chair in this assembly. Also, Senators who have come into personal contact with him will pay tribute to his generous, kindly treatment of them, whenever they went to consult him; but Lord Glenavy also has the faults of a man of first-rate ability. On some occasions his vision, being more rapid, his intellect travels more quickly perhaps than that of others, and naturally he displays a little impatience at times with them. On one occasion, when a question of very vital importance came before this Senate, he took up an attitude which, at least, caused very considerable resentment among some members here.

But it is not for any reason of a personal character that I propose that another Senator should occupy the Chair for the coming period. It is because of the democratic principle that no Senator should occupy the Chair for more than three years, and, also, on the principle, if I may say so, that we should have a Chairman more in touch with the democratic feelings of this age and more in touch with the ideals of the men whose labours brought this House into existence. This is why I propose the name of Senator Westropp Bennett.

Senator McLoughlin reminds us of the fact that when he proposed Lord Glenavy three years ago for the Chair he said that to elect him would be a splendid gesture to the Unionists of the North, and that it was, so to speak, throwing a bridge over the Boyne. Some said it was the holding out of an olive [7] branch to the North; but I know the absolute futility of holding out olive branches to men of the mentality of those in whose hands the Government of the North-East corner is at the moment. You have only to take the example of a few days ago where the Free State flag was flown opposite the Governor's house in the North, and a few days afterwards in the Northern Parliament Sir Dawson Bates said that the flag was removed and that the outrage that was committed in the display of that flag was cancelled.

That is the sort of mentality you have in the North. I am a Northerner. I know the mentality of those people and know that that is the spirit up there. I know that any little sort of futile concession that Senator MacLoughlin or any other Senator would make to them would only be taken as an example of weakness and the recipient of this act of tolerance would be looked upon as a traitor to their cause. I think I am not wrong in saying that there are men in the North of Ireland, and the majority of them, who think that Lord Glenavy watered down his principles when he took the Chair here and satisfied the people here. That is the opinion that obtains there. Now, at first, when Lord Glenavy took the Chair here, he said that he would not take the Chair if in this House there was a considerable section who did not wish him to do so. At that time there was a considerable section who did not wish him to do so, but at that time that considerable section had not become articulate. Here to-day I think that that considerable section will display itself.

Lord Glenavy occupies the Chair in virtue of the tolerance of this Assembly, and it would be a pity if Lord Glenavy did not show an example of tolerance by standing down now, and allowing the nominee of the Party that treated him so generously then to be elected unanimously. If Lord Glenavy goes forward and is beaten, well, it will detract from the honour and glory of his election here on the last occasion, and if he goes forward and wins it will be a Pyrrhic victory for him, and he will occupy that Chair [8] with the feeling of a guest who has outstayed his welcome. I now, therefore, propose the election of Senator Westropp Bennett.

Mr. O'FARRELL: On a point of order, now that Senators MacLoughlin and MacKean have made their speeches, would it be too much to ask the Seanad to stay this humbug? If we continue this sort of thing it is absolutely bringing the House down to the level of a board of guardians. If the Seanad is not able to make up its mind as to who is to occupy the Chair it would certainly not be a compliment to its intelligence, but we all know that the Seanad is not going to change its mind by reason of any speeches that are to be made here.

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: The motion in regard to Senator Bennett has not yet been seconded. The proposer and seconder have a right to speak and no one else.

Dr. GOGARTY: I second the motion.

Mr. FARREN: Will you point out, sir, under what rule or Standing Order nobody but the proposer and seconder has a right to speak to this motion? Under what Standing Order is that laid down?

Mr. O'FARRELL: I would suggest that the only rule on the matter is the rule of common elementary decency and good taste.

Colonel MOORE: I think Senator O'Farrell is making very strong remarks in the two speeches he has made. I think he is presuming very much on this House in making these statements.

Dr. GOGARTY: It is necessary to refer to the charges made about bunkum. I have heard a certain amount of stentorian trivialities from Senator MacLoughlin which are neither here nor there. The Chairman of the Seanad holds his seat under a three years' lease. We are anxious to change that and to make it an annual election. If there is no machinery to bring the Standing Orders under the survey of the House, we will have to recall the former Chairman so that this may be done; otherwise the Standing Orders will never be altered, for the simple reason that when there is a temporary [9] Chairman the machinery of the Standing Orders, touching this election, ceases. I would like some ruling on the matter to tell me how to proceed if we wish to make the Chairmanship annual. I want to dissociate myself from the suggestion that I have not had the liveliest feelings of the capable manner in which Lord Glenavy filled the Chair, and of the ripe store of wisdom and legal lore which he has brought to the disposal of this House, but inasmuch as this is a triennial election we ought to be allowed to give other members of the House an opportunity of becoming the Chairman. I think it would be less disastrous if the period were restored to an annual term.

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: Are you making a new motion? You are only seconding the proposal in relation to Senator Westropp Bennett. There have been two candidates proposed. Has anyone else got anything to say?

Mr. FARREN: I want to give my reasons why I cannot vote for one of the candidates put forward.

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: You asked me a short time ago what was the rule. There is no rule, but the precedent here is that when a candidate is proposed and seconded for the Chairmanship only the proposer and seconder speak. I have no doubt that the House could, if they liked, upset that precedent, but I should think that having consented once to it I will have to divide the House in order to change it. The precedent at present is that no one but the proposer and seconder speaks.

[10] Colonel MOORE: I think if you recollect what happened in the first Senate at least three or four spoke.

Lord GLENAVY: We had no Standing Orders then.

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: I do not know how I am to make the ruling because I have already declared that I am only here for the purpose of the election, but I suppose this is pertinent to the matter of the election of the Chairman.

Mr. O'FARRELL: I submit that the House itself can make any temporary rule it likes.

Mr. FARREN: I insist on my right to speak. I was in possession before any motion was made.

Mr. DOWDALL: I move that the question be now put.

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: I have already ruled that the only motion is as to whether we are to discuss it or not. The only thing I can do now is to let the election go forward or divide the House on the question of whether we shall have any more speeches.

Mr. O'FARRELL: I move: “That no speeches save those of the proposer and seconder of the candidates be made on the occasion of the election of the Chairman of the Senate.”

Mr. HAUGHTON: I second the motion.

The Senate divided. Tá, 40; Níl, 12.

J. G. Douglas.

J. Bagwell.

Henry L. Barniville.

William Barrington.

Sir Edward Bellingham.

Sir Edward Coey Bigger.

Rt. Hon. Henry Givens Burgess

John C. Counihan.

The Countess of Desart.

James Dillon.

J. C. Dowdall.

Michael Duffy.

Sir Thomas Henry Grattan Esmonde.

Sir Nugent Everard.

Martin Fitzgerald.

Thomas Foran.

Oliver St. John Gogarty.

James Perry Goodbody.

Earl of Granard.

Mrs. Stopford Green.

Sir John Purser Griffith.

Henry Seymour Guinness.

Benjamin Haughton.

Marquess of Headfort.

Sir William Hickie.

Arthur Jackson.

Sir John Keane.

Cornelius Kennedy.

Earl of Kerry.

Thomas Linehan.

John MacLoughlin.

Sir Bryan Mahon.

Earl of Mayo.

William J. Molloy.

James Moran.

Joseph O'Connor.

John T. O'Farrell.

Michael F. O'Hanlon.

Stephen O'Mara.

William Butler Yeats.

Níl

[11]Thomas Westropp Bennett.

Mrs. Eileen Costello.

Michael Fanning.

Thomas Farren.

Patrick Williams Kenny.

Francis MacGuinness.

[12]James MacKean.

Colonel Maurice Moore.

Bernard O'Rourke.

William O'Sullivan.

Mrs. Wyse Power.

Thomas Toal.

Motion declared carried.

ACTING-CHAIRMAN: The election now takes place. The roll will be called and each Senator present must rise in his place and answer.

The Roll having been called, the voting was as follows:—For Lord Glenavy, 34: for Senator Bennett, 18.

For LORD GLENAVY.

John Bagwell.

Henry L. Barniville.

Wm. Barrington.

Sir Edward Bellingham, Bt.

Sir Edward Coey Bigger.

Rt. Hon. Henry G. Burgess.

John C. Counihan.

Countess of Desart.

James Dillon.

James G. Douglas.

J. C. Dowdall.

Michael Duffy.

Sir N. Talbot Everard, Bt.

Thomas Foran.

James P. Goodbody.

Rt. Hon. Earl of Granard.

Mrs. A. Stopford Green.

Sir John P. Griffith.

Henry S. Guinness.

Benjamin Haughton.

Marquess of Headfort.

Major-Gen. Sir Wm. Hickie.

Arthur Jackson.

Sir John Keane, Bt.

Earl of Kerry.

Thomas Linehan.

John MacLoughlin.

Sir Bryan Mahon.

Rt. Hon. Earl of Mayo.

James Moran.

Joseph O'Connor.

J.T. O'Farrell.

Michael F. O'Hanlon.

W. B. Yeats.

For SENATOR T.W. BENNETT.

T.W. Bennett.

Mrs. Eileen Costello.

Sir T.H. Grattan Esmonde.

Michael Fanning.

Thomas Farren.

Martin Fitzgerald.

O. St. John Gogarty.

Cornelius Kennedy.

P.W. Kenny.

Francis McGuinness.

James MacKean.

W.J. Molloy.

Col. M. Moore.

Stephen O'Mara.

Bernard O'Rourke.

Wm. O'Sullivan.

Mrs. J. Wyse-Power.

Thomas Toal.

The Acting-Chairman declared Lord Glenavy elected.

Lord GLENAVY resumed the Chair.

CATHAOIRLEACH: I think I ought to say that I feel very much indebted for the support of those who voted for my re-election, and I must express my very deep sense of the honour they have conferred upon me. Of course, I am not blind enough to have failed to notice that something of that heated atmosphere that is prevalent in the other House has penetrated into this peaceful chamber. I have no remark to make either by way of retort or recrimination on that account, and certainly I am not going to take advantage of my position as Chairman here to indulge in anything of the kind. Those Senators who voted against my re-election were acting strictly within their constitutional rights, and so far as I am personally concerned they have left on my mind no sense of injustice whatsoever. The only thing that somewhat puzzled me was that those of them who gave voice to their opposition appeared to base it entirely on the fact that, according to them, I had been a success in the Chair. That at least is an encouragement to me, and I do take to myself the credit that, during the three years it was my good fortune to preside over this distinguished Assembly, I was able to give my rulings with firmness, without fear, favour or affection, and with a single thought of my fidelity to the oath which, in common [13] with every other Senator present, I have taken to bear true allegiance to the Constitution as well as to obey the Standing Orders of this House.

In regard to my decisions and rulings during these three years I have nothing to say by way of explanation or regret. I stand over them, each and every one, and in this respect I am glad to know that no single one of them, on any single occasion that I ever sought to assert or protect the privileges of this House, or of the citizens of the Free State, within the Constitution, has ever been successfully challenged. In addition I have the satisfaction at least of knowing in my heart and conscience that I never allowed myself to be diverted by a hair's breadth from the course to which my obligations to my oath and the Standing Orders dictated. I never allowed any external pressure or influence of any sort to have any effect or bearing whatsoever on any decision I ever gave.

Now that this little breeze is over, may I express my confident hope and belief that in the course of the next three years, if I am spared, I shall receive at the hands of every Senator, without distinction, the same kindly consideration and co-operation that I received during the past three years, which enabled me to conduct the proceedings of this Assembly with such dignity and decorum that not even in a single case did we ever approach to what my friends of the Press would describe as a “scene.”

As a result of the recent election eleven of our former Senators failed to retain their seats. I wish to express to each of them, one and all, my grateful appreciation of the courtesy they invariably extended to the Chair. I wish also to pay my tribute to the regular and constant attendance that they always gave at our meetings and to the sense of duty which always dictated the part they played in our debates and our deliberations. I wish to say, more particularly in regard to eight of these eleven Senators, because these eight were the original Senators of the first Senate created by the Irish Free State, that they should always be remembered with gratitude by their fellow-countrymen. In those days [14] of peril and danger to which Senator MacLoughlin referred, they loyally stood their ground and by enabling the Oireachtas to function, prevented the Executive of this country from being paralysed.

To those Senators who have taken their seats I wish on behalf of myself and of the House to extend our warmest and most friendly greeting. We welcome them all because we know that each and every one of them have cast in their lot with the fate and the future of our beloved country. We welcome them also because we know that they have played their part in the public, professional and industrial life of our country, and therefore they will be able to bring to bear on our deliberations the valuable experience so gained. I desire to say, in conclusion, that once again I have to renew and express my deep gratitude to Senator Douglas, who, in his position as Vice-Chairman, was such a loyal and constant friend of mine. I wish to acknowledge all that I owe to him for his great business capacity, his knowledge of the world, and his high personal integrity. These he always placed at my service, and throughout the three years they were of constant help to me.