Seanad Éireann - Volume 20 - 19 May, 1936
Public Business. - Tribute to Cathaoirleach.
Mr. MacLoughlin Mr. MacLoughlin
Mr. MacLoughlin: As the member of the House who had the honour of proposing the first Chairman of this House, I should like, Sir, to convey to you, on behalf of the members of our Party, an expression of our indebtedness for your dignified, courteous and impartial conduct of affairs in this House. I do so the more willingly because I was one of those who dissented when you were originally proposed for the Chair. I must confess now that my judgment has been revised, and I should like to record my appreciation of the choice made by my colleagues. When you succeeded such a brilliant Chairman as the late Lord Glenavy, a man whose high legal training and intellectual gifts particularly fitted him for the position, there were many who thought that your chairmanship would suffer in comparison. They have been agreeably disappointed. Your chairmanship has  been just as successful as that of your distinguished predecessor. For eight eventful years you managed the affairs of this House with tact and skill, and defended our rights and privileges with courage and ability. I have no doubt that you, Sir, feel as some of the rest of us do in our own cases, that President de Valera has done you an unwitting service in relieving you of public responsibility, but I do not think that the service he has done you is a service to the nation. You have added lustre and dignity to this House by your conduct in the Chair.
As one who has no ambition to be a member of a Second Chamber as in future constituted, I do not pretend that it is without a wrench that I sunder the many pleasant contacts I have made in this House, contacts, I am glad to say, not confined to the Party to which I belong. I notice that some of our friends on the right profess to look forward with enthusiasm to the disappearance of this stronghold of feudalism and West Britonism. I do not think the majority is quite so enthusiastic about it. The last moments are always the saddest, and, in spite of this forced gaiety and enthusiasm for their own destruction, there are, I think, amongst the Government and Labour Parties, a few concealed tears. The tears may be, of course, for the nation which is being deprived of their unselfish services. I have already said what I thought about their conduct in voting for the abolition of the House of which they were members. I will on this occasion spare their feelings and merely express the hope that they will all enjoy their well-earned obscurity.
Again, Sir, I thank you for your courtesy and for your services to this House and to the nation.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: I should like to associate myself with the remarks made by Senator MacLoughlin.
Mr. Johnson Mr. Johnson
Mr. Johnson: With all of them?
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: With all of them that I heard. I am sure that what the  Senator said about the Cathaoirleach will be endorsed by all the members of the Seanad no matter to what Party they belong. Every section of the House is, I think, agreed as to the impartiality of our Chairman. You, Sir, have been at all times most courteous and helpful to every member of the House with regard both to legislation and to the motions which came before us. You have given fair play to all of us, and you have been a perfect Father O'Flynn so far as this House is concerned.
Mr. O'Neill Mr. O'Neill
Mr. O'Neill: I cannot help joining in this tribute. I do not go the length of saying, as was said by one of the Senators, that you have been a perfect Chairman. I suppose no member of the Seanad has fallen foul of you oftener than I have. I recognise now that, in the words of Senator O'Farrell, we are cutting as under old associations. Although at times I felt aggrieved at your decisions, I was convinced, deep down in my heart, that there was no personal animosity on your part, that you were guided solely and entirely according to your lights. I regret some of the remarks made by Senator MacLoughlin, but I should like to join with other members in expressing my gratitude to you for many kindnesses, and, as we are now about to separate, I trust you may live long, enjoy your life, and have many years of prosperity.
Cathaoirleach: I thank you very much, indeed. We have finished our labours, and nothing remains to be done but to ring down the curtain. I think we may congratulate ourselves on having done the State some service. For my part, I owe a special debt of gratitude to you all for your sincere help to me during the many years in which I tried to fulfil with impartiality the duties of my office as your Chairman. On the 11th December, nearly 14 years ago, we met here in bleak December. We met in darkness. We emerge in light, conscious that we did our duty, and conscious that, in our every act, we tried to build and strengthen this infant State. We met,  as I say, educated in different environments, animated by different political ideals and ambitions, possibly distrusting one another. Yet, in a few short years of contact, as Senator O'Farrell said, we realised that each one of us, in our individual capacity, was working for the good of the State, that each was doing his best, playing his part, and pulling his weight in the boat. And so now we come to the end. No recriminations may or should be allowed. All I ask leave to do is to express the hope that we who have striven for the up-building of this State will continue to uphold this State so far as we can. If I might venture to express a hope, it would be that my voice, addressed from this Chair for the last time, would go out over our heads to the country at large in an appeal for respect for the law. The law is being made by our representatives for all of us. There is no safeguard for democracy but in the keeping of the law. I hope it will be kept. If we, who are in the sere and yellow leaf, are approached for our counsel, I hope we shall say: “Work for the law, by the law, and with the law.” Thus only will democracy be preserved and strengthened. We met in darkness; we emerge in light—the light of May, before us the glory of summer and the hope of autumn, with the reaping of the harvest. The harvest will be reaped by some men of goodwill—a harvest which will be great, giving a return which will be bounteous. I was struck some little time ago by a poem written by a Northern lady. Perhaps it was the sadness of the poem that appealed to me. The authoress was attuning her mind to the various responses of Nature and she was struck by the robin. This is what she said:
“Maybe you mind the robin
Sitting his lone on the thorn,
Preening himself on days that are gone,
Brave with a joy forlorn.
‘Tis true, it is bleak December,
And no Spring hopes has he;
‘Remember,’ he sings, ‘Remember,’ Ah, thon's the wee bird for me.”
 I thank you all. We shall remember the contacts we made here. We shall remember our friends of different creeds, of different politics, of different ideals, animated by one desire—the advancement of this State. So far as  God gave us light we fulfilled our duty, and we leave the stage conscious of our own rectitude. I thank you all, and I declare the Seanad adjourned sine die.
The Seanad rose at 4.10 p.m.
Seanad Éireann 20 Public Business. Tribute to Cathaoirleach.