Seanad Éireann - Volume 100 - 23 February, 1983

Election of Cathaoirleach.

Clerk of Seanad: Sé an chéad ghnó eile ná Cathaoirleach a thoghadh.

The next business is the election of a Cathaoirleach.

Glacfaidh mé le tairiscintí anois.

I will now receive motions.

Professor Dooge: Molaim don Seanad Pádraig MacRaghnaill a cheapadh mar Chathaoirleach den tSeanad. Tá sé mar bhall den Oireachtas le fada an lá agus is an-oiriúnach é don phost atá le líonadh.

In recommending Senator Patrick J. Reynolds as Cathaoirleach for this House, I am recommending somebody who has a long experience in public life. For over 40 years he has been a member of Leitrim County Council. For over 20 years he has been a Member of Oireachtas Éireann. He has been elected to both Houses: three times to the Dáil, four times to the Seanad. Since it is now four-three in the Seanad's favour, I am very glad that he has seen the light in this regard. He is in every way a worthy person to preside over the deliberations of the Seanad. Senators who were Members [9] of the Seanad in the past have had experience of him as a member of the Cathaoirleach's panel of temporary chairmen. In presiding over the House, he has done so with judgment, with humour and at all times with very definite fairness. He has shown what a Latin author defined as the mark of a good chairman, that is, to be suaviter in modo, fortiter in re. He has those qualities which this House seeks in its Chairmen and, I may say, has found in Chairmen in recent years. I have great pleasure in proposing Senator Reynolds.

Mr. O'Leary: It gives me great pleasure indeed to second the nomination of Senator Reynolds as Cathaoirleach.

Question put and declared carried.

Whereupon Senators rose in their places and remained standing while the Cathaoirleach proceeded to the Dais.

An Cathaoirleach: I want to express my thanks to the Members of the Seanad for electing me as Cathaoirleach. I am very conscious of the honour that has been bestowed on me in giving me the task of presiding over the business of one of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

I see in the House three distinguished predecessors and as I recall their time in the Chair, I realise the high standards I have to follow and it is an honour to know that you, my colleagues, consider me fit to succeed them.

I know that Senator Dooge and Senator McDonald will not take it amiss if I pay a special tribute to Senator Tras Honan, my immediate predecessor, who in her short time in the Chair was both particularly effective and charming. I am afraid I can only be effective.

I want to assure Senators that I will be impartial and that my conduct of the business of the House will be in accordance with the letter and the spirit of our Standing Orders. It is good to know in this regard that I will have the wise advice of the Clerk and the Clerk Assistant.

More important still, I know that I will have the full co-operation of all Members in ensuring that we will conduct our business [10] with dignity and efficiency and therby enhance the reputation of the Seanad as an important part of our democratic State.

Mr. Lanigan: A Chathaoirligh, on behalf of the Members on this side of the House I should like to congratulate you on attaining the position of Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. I know from working with you in the past that you will be an impartial chairman. Today, you will get an easy ride from this side of the House but I guarantee that it will not be as easy from now on.

I know you have the interests of this House at heart and that the traditions of the House will be upheld by you as they were by the people who sat in the Chair before you. We are in a new situation here, and I sincerely hope the efforts being made by former Leaders of the House to bring this House into an important area of government will be continued. This House for too long was considered to be in a secondary position. It should not be in a secondary position, and I sincerely hope that, for the length of time we sit in this Seanad, we will see more and more Bills initiated here and the importance of this House will be upheld.

Mr. Ferris: On behalf of the Labour Party I should also like to place on record our good wishes to you, Sir, on your election to the high office of Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. I join with the Leader of the Opposition in asking you to continue the good work undertaken by your predecessors to reform the House, its functions and its workings. I am sure that, as soon as the Committee on Procedure and Priviliges meets to continue discussions along these lines we can, in fact, make this a useful House of the Oireachtas initiating legislation in its own right and leading in areas of legislation in such a manner that the Government might take example from us.

You paid tribute to your predecessors. I should like on behalf of the Labour Party to put on record our appreciation of your predecessors in office: the Leader of the House when he was Cathaoirleach, [11] my colleague Senator McDonald when he was Cathaoirleach, and the previous Cathaoirleach to whom we all owe a great tribute for the manner in which she chaired the proceedings of this House and, indeed, the style she brought to the office, a style all her own admittedly, but one that was a welcome breath of fresh air in the actual running of this House. You said you would try to emulate her achievements in the Chair and that you could not possibly be as gracious as she is. I have no doubt that you can be very gracious, but I doubt that you will ever be as glamorous as she is. We will be looking forward to great things from you, a Chathaoirligh, and I wish you a long and happy stay in the Chair.

An Cathaoirleach: Thank you.

Mrs. McGuinness: Mar Sheanadóir neaspleách is mian liomsa fáilte a chur roimh an Seanadóir Reynolds mar Chathaoirleach nua an tSeanaid. Nós maith é, is dóigh liom, gur Seanadóir ar thaobh amháin den Teach a bheas in a Chathaoirleach den Seanad agus gur Seanadóir ón taobh eile den Teach a bheas ina Leas-Chathaoirleach. Is folláin an leagan amach é sin dár ndaonlathas. Maidir leis an Seanadóir Paddy Joe Reynolds féin, fear ar fónamh é a bhaineann le teaghlach a thug agus a tugann seirbhís mhaith don tír. Táim cinnte gur dea-Chathaoirleach a bheas ann.

I should like to join with other Senators in welcoming Senator Pat Joe Reynolds as Cathaoirleach of this House and also to join with those who have hoped that the work on the improvement and reform of the procedures of this House will be carried on so that the Seanad can play a proper and important part in the work of the Oireachtas. I also join in paying tribute to the former Chairmen. Unfortunately, and much to my regret, I missed being here during the chairmanship of my most admired colleague, Senator Tras Honan. I feel sure everything everyone has said about her is well deserved and that you will be a worthy successor to her.

[12] Mr. A. O'Brien: A Chathaoirligh, ba mhaith liom comhgháirdeas a dhéanamh leat agus a rá gur mór-chúis áthais domsa tú a bheith toghtha d'aonghuth mar Chathaoirleach den Teach seo. Tá aithne mhaith agam ort le fada an lá agus tá mé cinnte go ndéanfaidh tú do sheacht ndícheall do dhualgaisí a chomhlíonadh go héifeachtach agus cothrom na féinne a thabhairt do gach Seanadóir.

A Chathaoirligh, first of all, I want to congratulate you on your unanimous election to the post of Cathaoirleach of this House. Having known you for a long number of years, I am convinced that you will discharge your obligations efficiently and with courtesy. The name Reynolds in Sligo-Leitrim has been synonymous with good service to the public for well over half a century. It is a fitting honour for you to be elected Cathaoirleach of this House today. It is a recognition of the work which you and your parents before you did for the people of this country over half a century. I am delighted and I wish you every success. Guidhim rath Dé ort.

Mrs. Honan: A Chathaoirligh, I should like warmly to wish you well on your election. On this side of the House we intend to behave ourselves and to act as a constructive Opposition. We may be small in numbers but still there are enough of us here to let you know we are here. We may run off the rails at times but I am quite sure that with your long years of experience you will not be long in bringing us back on to them again. After your long years of service it is nice, as the Leader of the Government said, to see you at last in the Chair. I got there in a shorter time.

I should like to thank Senators for their very kind remarks and, now that I am out of it, I will be always glad that I tried to do the job which I was greatly honoured to have bestowed on me. A Chathaoirligh, I will not dare to forecast how long you may be in your office because I did very badly the first day I took the Chair. I said I would be there for four years and I lasted only ten months. I am sure that after the crucifying campaign all sides of the House hope you will last a bit longer. [13] But do not be too sure — not too long. I sincerely congratulate you again and I wish you well.

Mr. Ellis: I should like to express my sincere congratulations to my fellow countyman, Senator Reynolds. Indeed I know he is a very able Chairman because I entered public life under his chairmanship. When I entered Leitrim County Council he was Chairman of that body. I have no doubt that his ability as a chairman will be seen in this House in the future. I wish him every success. It is a fitting reward to him from his own political party for the years of service given to this country and to his party by his late father, his late mother and himself. I am glad that service has now been fully recognised by his party.

Mr. Robb: A Chathaoirligh, I should like to add my voice to what has been said already and to wish you well in the months and years that follow. I should also like to say how grateful I was to your predecessor for her kindness to myself and to former Senator Séamus Mallon when we arrived here out of the blue as newcomers. As I was reminded this morning by a senior serving Member of the Seanad, we had a long “honeymoon period”. A “honeymoon” with Senator Honan was indeed for me a great experience. I understand that I am now an old hand, but the rules are different. However, I will just mention in passing that it was a great pleasure to be accompanied on this occasion by two fellow Northerners, Senator Rogers and Senator McGonagle. I know they can expect to have lively debates and to be very welcome here in Seanad Éireann. I am sure you are looking forward to their contributions as much as I am, and we are certainly delighted to be here and feel it is a great honour and privilege to serve with you.

An Cathaoirleach: I should like to thank Senators for their very kind remarks. We will get on to the next business now. I will not predict how long we will last because the last prediction was very bad.