Motion under Standing Order 29.

Wednesday, 15 April 1981

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 95 No. 16

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An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Senator Connaughton has a motion under Standing Order 29 and it must be taken now according to the Standing Orders.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Pursuant to Standing Order 29, I wish to request leave to move the adjournment of the House today to discuss a specific and urgent matter of public interest requiring urgent consideration, that is, the breakdown in payment of disability benefit by the Department of Social Welfare.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I have examined this motion of which the Senator had given notice. As the matter is not one that has arisen suddenly, I do not consider that the motion is one contemplated by Standing Orders.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  I cannot understand why you should give that decision because this particular problem of the non-payment of disability benefit by the Department——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Chair has already given the ruling on this.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  ——is causing havoc throughout the country.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I would ask the Senator to please resume his seat.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  I am asking the House here to devote time to discussion of this very important matter.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Senator has been given the ruling of the Chair. He should now resume his seat.

(Interruptions.)

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Will the Senator please resume his seat?

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  It is not my form to interrupt the House.

[1599]An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Senator should resume his seat when asked by the Chair to do so. The Chair has already given a ruling on this matter and I would ask you to obey the ruling of the Chair. You have made your point.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  On a point of order, a Chathaoirleach, you indicated that you were ruling the matter out of order because it was not a matter that arose suddenly. With respect, having regard to Standing Order No. 29, there is no requirement that the matter, in order to come before the House, must arise suddenly.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Chair cannot allow a ruling of the Chair to be disputed.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  I am merely raising a point of order, a Chathaoirleach——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I know the Senator is raising a point of order.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  ——to ask you on what part of Standing Order No. 29 you base your ruling.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Chair does not have to give an explanation as to why it gave a ruling. I have read Standing Order No. 29 myself. I consider that this is not a matter of urgent importance, or one contemplated by that Standing Order.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  We are worried about the thousands of people in this country who are awaiting——

(Interruptions.)

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  There are two Senators on their feet at present. This is not a matter contemplated in the Standing Order.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  I cannot understand how the Chair can say at this moment that we have not an emergency. This is an absolute emergency.

[1600]An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I am sorry, Senator. The Chair has given a ruling on this matter. The Senator has the Standing Order there, Standing Order No. 29, and he can read it for himself. The Chair has interpreted the Standing Order in that manner and the Chair's decision on it cannot be questioned. Would the Minister please resume on the Courts Bill?

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  On a point of order, a Chathaoirleach, could you indicate to me the Standing Order that prohibits questions being asked in connection with your reasons for ruling this out of order.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Chair itself is the sole judge of order in this House and its ruling should and must be accepted. That has been the procedure followed in this House since I became Cathaoirleach and long before that.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  On a further point of order, might I not point out to the Chair that if what the Chair says is correct the Chair then is taking to itself arbitrary powers to exclude one of the Houses of the Oireachtas from debating a matter which is of immense concern to a great number of deprived citizens, a matter of urgent——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Sorry, I want to intervene again. The Chair is not taking any powers that have not already been conferred on it.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  I know a man now waiting 15 weeks for benefit. I was told this morning in the Department that I would not be allowed to go into the Department to fix the matter up. How dare anybody stop a public representative?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Chair was appointed to administer the Standing Orders of this House, is doing so, and the Chair's ruling on it cannot be questioned.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  On a point of order, I accept completely that it is a matter for [1601] the Chair to interpret and make a decision under Standing Orders, but there is absolutely nothing in Standing Order No. 29 that refers to something that has arisen suddenly. There is no reference at all to that. It says:

A motion for the adjournment of the Seanad on a specific and important matter of public interest requiring urgent consideration——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Chair has already informed the House that the matter is not one contemplated by the Standing Order. The Chair has ruled on that and the Chair is not going to be questioned on this all afternoon.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  On a point of order, Sir, is there any point at all in this House adopting Standing Orders if they are meaningless. What we are being told now, Sir, is that no matter what Standing Orders say, the Chair can decide, without reference to any reason, or any of the criteria that are listed in a Standing Order——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  That is not correct. The Chair has given the reason for this and that is final.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  On a further point of order, Sir, there is nothing——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The matter is not one contemplated in the Standing Order. Would the Senator please accept that?

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  I am not disputing that.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  That is the Chair's ruling.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  But, with respect, Sir, there is nothing in Standing Order No. 29 that refers to a necessary criterion for such a motion being discussed as having arisen, or not arisen, suddenly.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Senator is wasting time. I have already given a ruling on this.

[1602]Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  But there is nothing in that Standing Order that refers to the necessity of the matter arising suddenly at all. I see no point in——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Chair has already given a ruling on this. Would the Senator please resume his seat?

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  Then, sir, may I ask what is the purpose of our having Standing Orders at all? Those Standing Orders are being absolutely and utterly ignored by the Chair because there is nothing in Standing Order No. 29——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Excuse me, the Standing Order is not being ignored by the Chair. As a matter of fact the Chair is invoking Standing Order No. 29.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  With every respect to the Chair, I fail to see what reference the Chairman of the House has given to Standing Order No. 29 in the reply he gave to Senator Connaughton's request.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  That is the reply I gave Senator Molony also. I said the matter was not one contemplated in the Standing Order.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  That is not what the Chair said. What the Chair has said is that the matter has not arisen suddenly — I totally accept that — the problem has been in existence for some time, but it is getting worse. There is nothing in Standing Order No. 29 that refers to the necessity of a matter arising suddenly. I contend that the Standing Orders we have adopted in this House are absolutely meaningless if the Chairman of the House can ignore——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I am sorry, Senator, that is not a matter for the Chair. Standing Orders were not prepared by the Chair.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  They are adopted by this House.

[1603]An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Chair is interpreting Standing Orders as laid down here and that is what is happening now. Would the Senator please resume his seat and allow the proceedings of the House to continue?

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  Sir, I accept completely that Standing Orders are adopted by the House and not by the Chair. But, if any Member of this House is to have any right at all, surely — in the interpretation of Standing Orders — the Chairman must refer to the Standing Order——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Surely the Senator is not inferring that the Chair is preventing a Member from having certain rights in this House?

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  I am, sir, yes. I most certainly am.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  There is no point in our—

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  Sir, the reason you have given bears absolutely no relation at all to the criterion listed in Standing Order No. 29.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  If the Senator does not resume his seat I will have to ask the Leader of the House to have Senators who are being disorderly named and removed from the House.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  May I ask just one question of the Chair? This is a matter of serious importance to every Member of this House: what rights at all have we got if the Standing Orders we have adopted and the Order of the Business of this House can be ignored completely?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  The Senator knows as well as I do what rights he has got.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  I have no rights at all, that is the point——

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  It is not a question of our rights, it is the rights of the thousands of [1604] people who are being deprived of disability benefit.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  We are not discussing that.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  ——and a House of the Oireachtas is being deprived of that opportunity.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  We are discussing the motion raised by Senator Connaughton.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  If you will not allow discussion of citizens' problems this House is a nonsense.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Particularly when the other House is in recess, when the Taoiseach gave his firm undertaking to the people of Ireland that the disability payments would be made.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Would the Senator please resume his seat? I cannot allow any further discussion. The Chair has given his ruling. The Chair interprets the rules of this House under Standing Orders, and there the matter ends.

Mr. Cooney: Information on Patrick Mark Cooney  Zoom on Patrick Mark Cooney  You are only making a mockery of this House, that is all.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  On a final point of order, may I ask what rights do Members of this House have in the event of a ruling being given by the Chair——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  That does not arise as far as I am concerned. The Senator must sit down and conduct himself.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  I accept that you have the right, Sir, but what I am saying is: what is the point in our adopting Standing Orders if they are meaningless?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Would the Senator please resume his seat? The matter is finished.

[1605]Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  Then, Sir, what does that document mean?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Will the Senator please sit down?

Mrs. Cassidy: Information on Eileen Cassidy  Zoom on Eileen Cassidy  Senator Molony's concern has been four years simmering and is now coming to the boil.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I will have to talk to the Leader of the House——

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  On a further point of order may I ask——

Mr. E. Ryan: Information on Eoin David Senior Ryan  Zoom on Eoin David Senior Ryan  North Tipperary here I come.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  I have been in North Tipperary for the past four years; let me assure the Leader of the House of that. If there are problems we will deal with them when the day comes. I am concerned, Sir, to know this — I accept that you have the right to interpret the rules — but I want to know where Members of this House can go when we feel that the Standing Orders we have adopted are completely and utterly meaningless, when the Chair, perhaps within the rights of the Chair — I do not dispute that——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  Sorry, Senator that is a matter for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, of which probably the Senator is a member; I do not know. The Chair has nothing whatever to do with that. The Chair interprets Standing Orders here for the benefit of the Members as a whole.

Mr. Molony: Information on David Molony  Zoom on David Molony  On a point of order, Sir, may I ask——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Séamus Dolan  Zoom on Séamus Dolan  I cannot hear any further points on this, please, the matter is closed. Would the Minister please resume?


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