Tuesday, 23 March 1982
Dáil Eireann Debate
Dr. FitzGerald: I propose that Deputy Harte be elected Leas-Cheann Comhairle. Deputy Harte has been a Member  of this House for more than 20 years and he has the respect of all sides of the House. He is known for his non-partisan approach and for his concern for national rather than party interests. At times this has been demonstrated almost to the temporary embarrassemnt of the party to which he belongs. Deputy Harte would make an excellent Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
I would remind the House of the precedent set on the last occasion, some seven months ago, when the present Taoiseach proposed that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle should come from the Opposition. I hope that the Independents will take account of that precedent today and will consider it appropriate that the Leas-Cheann Comhairle should be a representative of the Opposition especially since we are putting forward such a very experienced Member of the House.
Blaney, Neil T.
(Dublin South-East) Calleary, Seán.!Lawlor, Liam.
Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Dublin South-Central).
Gallagher, Pat Cope.
Haughey, Charles J.
Kitt, Michael P.
Burke, Raphael P.
Callanan, John. Lawlor, Liam.
Murphy, Ciarán P.
Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
O'Dea, William G.
Wilson, John P.
Conlon, John F.
Cooney, Patrick M.
Cosgrave, Liam T.
Cosgrave, Michael J.
D'Arcy Michael J.
Deasy, Martin A.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Enright, Thomas W. O'Brien, William.
|Farrelly, John V.
Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Cavan-Monaghan).
Flanagan, Oliver J.
Harte, Patrick D.
Higgins, Michael D.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East). Ryan, John J.
Sheehan, Patrick J.
Dr. FitzGerald: A Cheann Comhairle, on a point of order, recalling what the Taoiseach said on the last occasion when the same thing happened, he drew to your attention that the same procedure outlined in Standing Orders applicable to the election of the Ceann Comhairle applied to the election of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, namely, that in the event of there being an equality of votes, the question should be decided in the negative, but you replied to him that you did not require that advice, and you decided in the interests of fair play in the House that you would cast your vote against. I take it that you will do the same thing on this occasion.
Mr. Harte: In the extraordinary result of the vote just taken to elect a Leas-Cheann Comhairle I want to offer my personal congratulations to Deputy Tunney. Deputy Tunney has been a Member of this House for many years. For all of those years he and I have been on personal friendly terms. He is a man for whom I have had the utmost respect. On many occasions when the former Taoiseach was seeking advice and guidance on the types of Deputies who should be around him to advise him on North/South relations, he was one of the people I had in mind and often suggested his name to the former Taoiseach. Our friendship goes back for that number of years. I take this opportunity to wish him well in the office to which he has now been appointed. However, I must say also that in the extraordinary decision of the Chair to cast his vote on this occasion for Deputy Tunney, when on the previous occasion he cast his vote against me, it is very difficult for me, a Cheann Comhairle, to accept such a rationale from you.
Mr. Harte: What I have to say from now on has no bearing on Deputy Tunney. I want to say this, that when the present Taoiseach, as Leader of the Opposition, was speaking on the previous occasion on the appointment of a Leas-Cheann Comhairle here in the House he mentioned that if the Government had confidence in the Chair then the Opposition were entitled to have confidence in the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I do not know what confidence the present Government have in the occupant of the Chair at present but my human nature would be stretched to a capacity far beyond its control were I expected to have confidence in you, a Cheann Comhairle.
Mr. Harte: Not alone that, but you and I also have been friends for many years. On the previous occasion I said that your decision was a correct one and I still say it was a correct one. But if it was correct the last day, it is extremely wrong today.
Mr. Harte: On that particular point I want to say that as Deputy Blaney is now accepting the Fianna Fáil Whip, then you were proposed by the Government. That  is not what I want to put on the record, Sir. My confidence in you has been shaken——
Mr. Harte: Sir, I want to say that my confidence in you has not been shaken today. I have said this quite deliberately. I have spoken to my wife about it because she knows how close a friendship we had. My confidence in you was shaken on the day of the election of the Taoiseach. I want to put this on the record of the House — on my personal record of being twenty years in the House — when I approached the Chair on the day of the election of the Taoiseach to congratulate you, Sir, on being re-elected as Ceann Comhairle I heard Deputy Brian Lenihan, the present Minister for Agriculture, say to you: thanks, John, for calling us first, it helped us along the way.
Mr. Harte: I just want to say that I have no hard feelings for Tony Gregory. I said to him that in all probability he was not voting and that our relationship would not be any different afterwards. My thanks to all Deputies who voted for me.
My final remark is this: to the Taoiseach who expects fair play in this House, this man who now beams the radiation of fair play and honesty, from someone who has tried to understand his position, who argued so strenuously on the previous occasion that his nominee should be the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I shall take with a pinch of salt anything that you say from now on, Charlie.
Mr. Tunney: Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl don Teach faoi mé a cheapadh mar Leas-Cheann Comhairle don dara uair taobh istigh de bhliain amháin. Is mór liom mar onóir é agus ní beag liom mar dhualgas é an méid atá le déanamh agam. Cuirim os comhair an Tí go ndéanfaidh mé mo dhícheall na dual-gaisí sin a chomhlíonadh i gcaoi nach mbeidh aiféala ná díomá ar Paddy Harte, ar an Teachta Mac Gearailt ná na huaisle eile anseo ar mo chlé gur cheapadh mé mar Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
A Cheann Comhairle, it is personally somewhat dreamlike that within one year I should have the honour and privilege of standing here and, through you, conveying my thanks to the House for having elected me as Leas-Cheann Comhairle and for having the opportunity, too, of commiserating with my colleague, Deputy Harte, that the honour has escaped him once again. Additionally, I wish to reiterate my resolve that for the duration of my term of office as Leas-Cheann Comhairle I will carry out to the  letter and to the spirit what is embodied in our Standing Orders so that the purpose and functions of this House will be performed in accordance with its dictates and with the wishes of the people of Ireland.
Finally, I resort to our own language again, which for me encapsules better than any other language the manner in which I should restate my thanks and my thoughts. To all Members of the House I say “Go mbeirimid go léir beo ar an am seo arís”.
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