Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Bill 2009: Committee Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 204 No. 2
Unrevised

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Acting Chairman (Senator Feargal Quinn): Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  Amendment No. 4 is out of order.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  I am sure the fact that the amendment is out of order is as much a surprise to the Acting Chairman as it is to me. Amendment No. 4 relates to a fundamental issue——

Acting Chairman (Senator Feargal Quinn): Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  The amendment is out of order and cannot be discussed.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  That is fine. Perhaps I might have an opportunity to refer to some of the matters to which it relates in respect of later amendments.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I am glad the amendment has been ruled out of order. Is it possible for the Acting Chairman to outline the grounds on which this ruling was made?

Acting Chairman (Senator Feargal Quinn): Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  We cannot discuss that matter.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Were there no grounds for ruling it out of order?

Amendment No. 4 not moved.

Section 3 agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Senator Feargal Quinn): Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  Amendments Nos. 5 and 37 are related and will be discussed together.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I move amendment No. 5:

This amendment involves the insertion of a new section into the Bill and involves the granting of a degree of retrospection in respect of an extremely serious situation.

I wish to place some flesh on the bones of the amendment. The Minister may have been too busy to hear an extremely important discussion on this matter which occurred on radio in recent days. During that discussion, Henk Krol, who has been involved in the areas of civil and human rights for many years and who hails from the Netherlands, referred to a situation in which a young Dutch woman married a Frenchman. They had one daughter together but after some years the marriage broke down. The biological father and ex-husband did not pursue an interest in the child and the former wife took the child back to the Netherlands to live with her. Tragically, the biological mother and former wife was killed in a traffic accident. As stated, the biological father had no interest in the child but his parents — of whom the child had no recollection whatever — intervened and took a case in the Dutch courts in order to secure access to her and transport her to France, a country of which she had no recollection and in [241]whose language she was not conversant. Needless to say, that young person had an extremely troubled childhood as a result. It was in the aftermath of this case and others like it that the Dutch authorities changed the law.

I am realistic with regard to whether these two amendments are going to be accepted. It is highly unlikely that they will be accepted but the Minister may, of course, spring a surprise on us. However, I do not believe this will happen.

Amendment No. 37 is quite substantial in nature and the Minister has indicated a degree of movement in respect of the area to which it relates. I hope he will request that his officials pursue this matter. If it is an issue which should be explored by the Law Reform Commission — I share the Minister’s confidence in that body — I hope the effect of what we are doing here will be, at the very minimum, to impel the debate forward and provide a new vigour in respect of it. As the Minister will see and as colleagues on all sides of the House have been kind enough to remark, amendment No. 37 is very detailed and carefully crafted. I pay tribute to the various individuals who assisted me in its production. It is important that we take it seriously. I am a realist, but I hope, at the very least, the Minister will accept it is important that we advance all of these issues. I would like to see a full resolution of all of them. If we are forced by circumstances to adopt an incremental approach instead, I hope we will be moving in the right direction, at least.

I again quote from the Ombudsman for Children’s report on the Bill:

The Minister has spoken about what he perceives as the required differential between marital status and the status of civil partnership. I assume he would not wish to discriminate between children. That brings us to the nub of the moral issue.

As the Minister said, this issue is extremely complex. He has indicated that there was a ruling in one of our higher courts to the effect that in a partnership a child could only be the child of one of the partners in a civil partnership of the same sex. That is not necessarily the case. I respectfully suggest the courts may have misdirected themselves in law. This is not the first time they have done so. There was a notorious example when the late Mr. Justice O’Higgins — I hope I am right in that regard — misdirected himself in law in a case in which I was involved. I do not have any malign intention when I say I hope I am right. I do not want to suggest he is dead if he is not. I believe he is. I mention this because it is theoretically possible — I wonder if the Minister agrees — to have a relationship between persons of the same sex, with the biological child of one being adopted by the other. It may be unlikely and may not be contemplated by law, but it is certainly a theoretical possibility. I respectfully suggest the judgment in this case was wrong. If possible, I would like to extract from the Minister some comfort, in advance of a possible court case, on the question of whether it is the intention of the Oireachtas for there to be some difference in the level of protection afforded to these children. If so, that would be a very worrying concept.

[242]Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  I support these two amendments which are related in their purpose. We have already put to the Minister the need to ensure the rights of children are protected in this legislation. I know he has said he will not accept the amendments at this stage. I am glad to hear him say, however, that he will adopt a composite response to the needs of children, as part of a more comprehensive review of guardianship law. I do not think he has indicated when that is likely to happen. Even if he does not accept these two amendments now, they should inform any future development of legislation. Amendment No. 5 provides that “where one of the partners in a civil partnership has, or had prior to the entry into a civil partnership, adopted a child or children to whom they may or may not be biologically related, and in the event of the death of that adopting parent, the surviving partner shall be regarded in law as a guardian”. It would overcome the difficulties that would arise if the partners had not made a will appointing the non-adoptive parent as the testamentary guardian. It would ensure the rights of the child in that situation and such a child would not be left without a guardian in law. I know a good deal of work has gone into the well crafted amendment No. 37 to section 90. I commend the officials in the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network and elsewhere who assisted Senator Norris with the amendment.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I think Mr. Brian Barrington drew it up.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  It may have been. I am not sure who it was.

The amendment covers many issues. It would be worthwhile for the Minister to examine it in a broader context because it would give rights to a child beyond a civil partnership. It would amend the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 to ensure the acquisition of guardianship by a step-parent, regardless of whether that person is “a person who is married to or is the civil partner of a parent of that child”. It would address the current anomaly where a woman who has a child subsequently marries a new partner and that new partner has no relationship in law to the child, unless he is the father of the child. It would also include coverage of civil partnership and recognition of the natural father. It recognises that a child may have a number of guardians, all of whom would have to consent to the step-parent being made a guardian. It is commendable because it would encompass the voice of the child, providing that the court should consider “the views of the child himself or herself in relation to the application, as the court thinks appropriate and practicable”, “the views of the guardian or guardians of the child” and “the views of any other parent of the child”. It would cover a natural father who is not a guardian. It would covers circumstances in which the guardianship may have ended. It is not quite the special guardianship provision I mentioned, but it would help to address the difficulties faced by children of a civil partnership when the partnership dissolves and they have no relationship in law with the non-birth or adoptive parent.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I wonder if I can correct some misinformation I have given to the House. Having looked at my documents, I realise it was Dr. Fergus Ryan of the faculty of law in the Dublin Institute of Technology who prepared this specific amendment at my request.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  He is not here to defend himself. Perhaps we should not say too much more about the identity of the person who concocted these amendments.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Do not go there.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Regretfully, I disagree with thee amendments. However, I would like to join Senator Norris in commending Mr. John Waters for his excellent work in drawing attention to the rights of non-married fathers. He has done public debate a great service in his [243]writings on this and other issues. Senator Norris has raised the issue in the context of the recent decision in the case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria. It is true there was some recognition in that case of the family status involved. The case is probably more notable for the fact that it was found that under the European Convention on Human Rights, there was no obligation on member states to legislate for same-sex marriage, nor was there an obligation on them to legislate for same-sex partnerships. It has to be said any references to the European Convention on Human Rights or decisions of the European Court of Human Rights should also recall that we have incorporated the convention at sub-constitutional level. Therefore, everything here is subject to the over-riding requirements of the Constitution.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  That is why I mentioned the certificate of incompatibility.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  We need to take a closer look at the issues raised in the amendments. Amendment No. 5 proposes that “the surviving partner shall be regarded in law as a guardian of the child” in a case in which the deceased partner was the adopting parent. Amendment No. 37 is similar. It seems we are getting very close to the boundaries of the Constitution. I recall my earlier comment that, although we are right to seek to affirm and vindicate the rights, welfare, dignity and best interests of children, we must not do so in a way that will have the result of relativising the context in which we would like children to be brought up. That seems to be a recurrent problem in this debate. I hear constant appeals to the rights and best interests of children, but they often seem to be linked with seeking a particular status for an adult relationship. I have a problem with this. I do not question the motivations or bona fides of those who make this argument, but I point to the downsides of that political approach. That is why I commend the wisdom of the Minister on this issue in keeping the issue of children separate from the issue of civil partnership. In this context it must be said we want to vindicate the rights of children in a way that does not undermine the marital family as the socially preferred context. We should not regard that as an anachronistic constitutional inheritance we have not yet shaken off. It is worth pointing out that social science studies consistently show that family form is not an accidental feature of relationship quality. In the context of married and cohabiting couples, for example, the millennium cohort study of 2008 stressed the right of children to be brought up by their biological parents and was able to show evidence that where parents were living together at nine months, the question of the family form involved had a material impact on the child experiencing family change. Children living with married natural parents at nine months were much less likely to have experienced family change than children living with cohabiting natural parents or with a lone natural mother. The figure was one in ten in the context of married parents who experienced family change within the next five years or first five years of the child’s life. It was one in four for cohabiting parents and one in three in the context of lone parents. That is just one example, admittedly from an area examining marriage and cohabitation. Miss Justice Elizabeth Dunne considered the evidence in her decision in the Zappone-Gilligan case and expressed concerns about arguments being made that sought to relativise where the best interests of children lay in the context of same-sex parenting vis-à-vis married parenting. We cannot ignore those issues as we consider these amendments and for that reason I oppose them.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  These amendments go to the heart of a very important issue and also challenge us in many ways. They are a test for the depth of our Christianity and republican ethos. That is my firm belief. I gave my views with regard to guardianship which may have surprised Senator Norris. These issues need to be looked at and teased out thoroughly and objectively because they are complicated.

[244]Senator Norris said that although the Minister may take the view that he must discriminate between marital status and civil partnership status, he should not discriminate between children.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Exactly.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  The converse is true. Why should we discriminate between civil partnership and marriage if marriage was not the institution into which children are born in the natural order? Without that issue surely there would be no need to have any such discrimination and there would be very little need to give any sort of unique financial assistance.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Does the Senator approve of discrimination against children?

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I do not. I mean that the natural order where children emerge focuses my mind. In the overwhelming majority of cases that will be through the institution of heterosexual relationships, specifically marriage.

I was very taken by and wish to acknowledge that I was reassured by the Minister’s response to us on the last amendment, tabled by Senator Norris. We touched on this issue and on adoption although I recognise the Senator’s current amendments are probably more relevant to the topic of guardianship. I was reassured because it was obvious from the Minister’s comments that very careful consideration had been given to these issues by him, his officials and the Government. Knowing the Minister as a good family man and knowing the value he would place on children, it does not surprise me that such is the case. He pointed out that it is a comprehensive and complex area. We need to be extremely balanced. Many interests are involved, including, as Senator Norris rightly said, biological fathers in instances where they have no say in the rearing of their biological children. It is an enormous area and I agree with the Senator. John Waters has been a champion in this area for many years, often a lone voice. That should be considered.

I heard Senator Regan ask the Minister if he had confidence in the Law Reform Commission. Like the good lawyer he is, the Senator knew the answer before he asked the question. The Minister would not be in a position in the House to say other than what he said.

Senator Eugene Regan: Information on Eugene Regan  Zoom on Eugene Regan  On a point of order——

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Given that this is an extremely important matter I ask the Minister to consider appointing an objective committee, commission or group — I exclude the Law Reform Commission because its views have already been expressed — to look at international surveys which have been done, especially in the United States and Great Britain, with regard to the impact on children of the various kinds of relationships. We would thereby have some international comparisons and could consider the matter in the House. This is a very complex area and it needs to be evaluated objectively and comprehensively. Obviously, we should look at international practices and experience in that regard. I put that as a genuine suggestion to the Minister.

No Member in this House has any priority in regard to family values or anything else. We must approach this collectively and must ensure we make the right decisions. Although I have a very firm view as to what I think is best in this regard, I believe it should be fairly, objectively and independently evaluated.

[245]Senator Geraldine Feeney: Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Given the contribution I made earlier, I must say to Senator Norris and the Labour Party I do not see anything wrong with that amendment. I heard a lovely couple, two women who live in County Kildare, being interviewed, perhaps on “The Late Late Show” or on the radio. Between them they had two children, the biological children of one of the women. They spoke about no arrangement being in place in the event of the death of the biological mother, yet from the time the two boys were very young, the female partner was the only other parent they had ever known. This amendment made me think of that interview. I ask the Minister whether there might be a case in which provision could be put in place by a same-sex couple to be enacted in the case of a death.

Before my husband died we had an arrangement which applied in the event of both of us being killed together. We had four children. We put a provision in place that in the event of both of us being wiped out at the same time, our children would go where we wanted them to go. We had chosen family members to look after and rear them as their own children. Perhaps nothing can be done with regard to in-laws in this case but might a couple, having all their faculties and being well, put a provision in place that if something were to happen to the biological mother, the children could be cared for by the partner?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I reiterate my support for the position of Mr. Waters on the problems attaching to the status of the natural father, although he is almost as much of a monomaniac on that subject as I am on some others. He acknowledged that I had spoken out on this matter at a very early stage. I believe my credentials are established in that area.

With regard to the business of getting reports and statistics, I also refer to the report of a formal commission initiated by the Swedish Government in 1999, and I regard that as authoritative. We may be getting ourselves into a situation such as that described in a short story of the late Seamus O’Kelly in which there was a court case involving two families regarding land. They had no knowledge of the intricacies of law but they acquired lawyers who produced maps and one said to the other “sure our maps are as long, as big and as complicated as yours and isn’t our lawyer even bigger, fatter and more expensive.” I am not sure about the benefit of comparing these things, especially in light of a case that is still before the courts. I believe it at the level of Supreme Court and therefore we must be reasonably careful. I recall clearly that a consultant psychiatrist gave evidence in that case and it was very strong evidence as I remember, but under cross-examination it was established that this particular highly reputable consultant had not written or published papers, lectured or had any detectable expertise in the area. Therefore one must be extremely careful. I say this without reference to anyone present. Following on from the person to whom I previously referred, there are an enormous number of crackpots in the United States on both sides. If we get into selecting and firing crackpots, it would be almost like the Deputy Bertie Ahern situation, which so endeared him to the nation, when he said “We are not going to get anywhere if we sit here all night throwing red elephants and white herrings at each other.”

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Do not upset the apple tart.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Exactly, it would upset the apple cart.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  I do not want to prolong the debate either but I cannot hear of these attacks on the Law Reform Commission. It is an objective body and its review is welcome. I am disappointed that amendments to this legislation on the rights of children will not be accepted, but I hope we will see comprehensive legislation on the rights of children very soon.

As Senator Norris said, one can cite all sorts of evidence and studies. A great number of the studies cited have not looked at gay parenting versus straight parenting versus parenting by [246]heterosexual couples. The US NIS-4 study, which has been quoted routinely by many people, shows that biological parents are better in this respect, but it did not look at gay parents in particular. The studies which have looked at gay parenting as opposed to parenting by heterosexual couples have shown over decades that there is no adverse impact on children raised by gay and lesbian parents. In 2002, the American Academy of Paediatrics Committee, which is not made up crackpots but is a respected American body, found no substantial difference between children raised by gay parents and heterosexual parents. One can quote all these studies but the specific studies looking at and contrasting gay parenting and heterosexual parenting have found there is no adverse impact. What matters is the quality of the parenting and the bond between parent and child.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  That is not true.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  With respect, I did not interrupt the Senator. It is true and that is the evidence that has been put before the High Court here and it is the evidence internationally. We are looking also at independent research commissioned by Marriage Equality which has not yet been published but which the ombudsman referred to as ongoing research on the experience of children born into gay relationships and raised by gay couples in Ireland. That will give us an interesting set of findings also, but in the meantime we are left with the situation where a large number of children are being raised by gay couples and they have no legal protection at present. We should not forget that one third of children in Ireland are born outside of marriage. Senator Walsh may refer to the natural order of things but clearly the natural order is changing.

Senator Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  I support the two amendments under discussion. While I acknowledge it is unlikely the Minister will accept these amendments, this issue should be reconsidered. These amendments encompass what this historic day is all about. It is about acknowledging and recognising same-sex families. They are families. I have listened to the debate with
interest.

Some of the derogatory comments made earlier were unhelpful. I mention in particular the reference to some children and those in civil partnerships as foxes and hens, which was despicable. We were all children——

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  On a point of order, that comparator was not made. That is a distortion and I ask the Senator to correct it.

Acting Chairman (Senator Feargal Quinn): Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  That is not a point of order.

Senator Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Those who are in same-sex unions were once children. We all went through the same experience. As a father, the best thing one can ask for any child is to ensure they are being brought up in a loving relationship. I commend Senator Norris, with the help of outside support, on crafting these amendments, in particular amendment No. 37 which goes further than dealing with same-sex unions in that it also deals with the issue of step-parents. I look forward to the Minister’s response to it.

I have spoken previously on civil partnership, same-sex unions and same-sex marriage. My position and that of my party on this area is very clear. This Bill falls short in a number of areas. It definitely falls short in regard to the rights of the child. The amendments discussed earlier and particularly these amendments, if accepted, would go a long way towards making this legislation more worthy of our support.

[247]It is great to be in this House today as a republican because the Seanad is clearly republican. Everyone has outlined how republican they are but, unfortunately, perhaps some of them are talking about American style republicanism instead of Irish republicanism. We talk about cherishing the children of the nation equally. These amendments deal with that principle. They give rights to those in same-sex families, to the partners in a civil union, but it does take away rights from the biological parents. The issue of the rights of fathers in particular has been mentioned, which needs to be addressed.

I would like the Minister to deal with a number of points. Senator Bacik raised the point of conferring rights on others that do not supersede the rights of the family. My second point is if these amendments are not accepted, when can we expect legislation to be introduced to deal with the complex issues that have been raised by members of the Opposition? I am not asking the Minister to give a date or month but to indicate a reasonable timeframe. I am sure that Members of the Government parties would like to see these amendments, or some of them at least, in some way, shape or form, encompassed into legislation that would give rights to children and to those who are in same-sex unions.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  It is difficult when listening to the various contributions not to reflect on how increasingly complicated children’s lives are becoming and it is not, it seems to me, in the direction of their well-being. I listened to what Senator Feeney said. She spoke eloquently about a situation that can arise. I draw her attention to something that was said earlier about the existing possibility under section 7 of the Guardianship of Infants Act, whereby one can appoint a testamentary guardian to provide that in the event of one’s death, someone else can take up the role of being a guardian. The difficulty with doing this in one’s lifetime is that one must ask what price is the role of the absent biological parent. I do not want to be flippant but I was reminded of a song Brendan Grace used to sing when I was child called “I’m my own Grandpa”. We are discussing issues of such complexity that such outcomes look increasingly possible with the twists and turns in people’s lives. It is very much to be regretted if we are talking about situations where there are not one or two but three guardians, if one considers a civil partnership couple as the new de facto family. Therefore, one starts arguing in favour of a guardianship or formalised role for the non-biological parent. One is also trying to factor in what we could call the John Waters agenda which is valid and legitimate. The sheer complexity of the issue illustrates just how much we are losing our way as a society in failing to have a vision for what we want for our children. It is, of course, right and proper to consider de facto families.

One point which struck me while listening to the debate — I would like the Minister to consider talking to the Minister for Health and Children about it — concerned the policy of adoption authorities when assessing individuals. Does the State take the view that when it comes to adoption, a married couple is best, or is there a nod and a wink, whereby we say it does not matter, that we will use the exceptional circumstance of a single person as cover in assessing same-sex couples who wish to adopt? Are the organs of the State neutral on the issue? Perhaps we need answers on it. Perhaps it is a fit topic for a future debate because I do not believe the organs of the State should be neutral on the issue.

I have a concern because I hear much talk about children’s rights. However, I do not hear much about what is the best context in which to bring up children. In that regard, I support some of Senator Norris’s comments on our being willing to consider international evidence. It is one thing to be aware of the fact that sometimes the evidence is flawed, it is another to use that fact as an excuse never look at evidence. That is why the recent comments of the chairman of the Law Reform Commission were worrying. It is legitimate to consider her comments in a critique; it would have better if she had not intervened on one side of the debate in a television [248]discussion programme because of the role she plays. It does not necessarily flow, however, from such a critique that one should immediately ask the Minister whether he has confidence in the Law Reform Commission. We are entitled to offer a degree of fraternal correction from the national Parliament when we see something like that happen which is not in the best interests of proper public debate and a thorough scrutiny of the issues.

On the issue of evidence and having said what I said about the concerns we should have for the increasingly complicated and compromised nature of child welfare because of fractured family structures, a meta-analysis was made by Moore, Jekielek and Emig in 2002 in which they said research clearly demonstrated that family structure mattered for children and that the family structure which helped children the most was a family headed by two biological parents in a low conflict marriage. Children in single parent families, those born to unmarried mothers, those in step families or cohabiting relationships, face a higher risk of having poor outcomes. I cannot remember when I last heard a State official confess to the reality which causes me profound concern. The meta-analysis of 2008 concluded that even in nations with the most extensive welfare measures such as the Scandinavian countries and France, a substantial gap in child welfare remained between those children who grew up in intact families and those who did not. It has been correctly suggested some of the studies cited do not refer specifically to same-sex parenting. There is a very good reason for this, namely, this area of life is very new in the sense of formal recognition of same-sex parenting and legal rights being accorded to it. I am not suggesting homosexuality is new. That is partly the reason festina lente should be our motto. We should be advancing with great caution. That is why I am very concerned about the potential radical reach of some aspects of the Bill.

One person whom we can trust is Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne who spoke on this issue in the Zappone and Gilligan case. She referred to Professor Green who had advanced evidence in support of the case for same-sex parenting. She said:

Taking on board the evidence that I also heard from Professor Casey and from Professor Waite, I think that one must have some reservation in relation to the conclusions drawn by Professor Green. The phenomenon of parenting by same sex couples is one of relatively recent history. The studies that have taken place are consequently of recent origin. Most of the studies have been cross sectional studies involving small samples and frequently quite young children. I have to say that based on all of the evidence I heard on this topic that I am not convinced that such firm conclusions can be drawn as to the welfare of children at this point in time. It seems to me that further studies will be necessary before a firm conclusion can be reached. It also seems to me having regard to the criticism of the methodology used in the majority of the studies conducted to date that until such time as there are more longitudinal studies involving much larger samples that it will be difficult to reach firm conclusions on this topic ... Having considered [Professor Linda Waite’s] evidence it reinforces the view that there is simply not enough evidence from the research done to date that could allow firm conclusions to be drawn as to the consequences of same sex marriage particularly in the area of the welfare of children.

Clearly, the precautionary principle is being invoked. Evidence and studies are useful and will help us to make a decision, but they will not be the final decider because we have to factor in issues of principle. However, evidence will have a very strong role to play. The judge in that case said the jury was still out.

In addition to the lack of longitudinal studies and the small number of samples, there is also the point which arises indirectly as a result of something said by Senator Bacik when she referred to an Irish study that very often the studies are based on people self-assessing their [249]well-being, a flaw in many studies one comes across. None of us can arrive at full conclusions on this issue, but it is clear that for the time being and a long time into the future the precautionary principle is the one we will have to adopt.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I am taken by one of the points made by Senator Mullen on testamentary guardians. Perhaps there is some scope within it for a resolution of this issue. Issues surrounding children need to be addressed in their best interests; there should be no other agenda attached. In that regard, to underline the complexity of the matter to which the Minister referred, some time ago I chaired a meeting which a woman from England, Ms Joanna Rose, addressed. She was conceived with the aid of a sperm donor. Her father was a student who was a sperm donor and she estimated that she probably had some 300 siblings. There was a recent case in which a brother and sister married each other, not knowing they were siblings. We need to put in place significant safeguards in this regard.

I fundamentally disagree with Senator Bacik. If we are to hand over to a gay rights group responsibility for conducting studies on our behalf which we will accept as being independent — that is why I said any studies should be independent——

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Does the Senator agree with the Swedish Government?

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I agree with Senator Norris that studies were conducted in the United States and Britain which were not as objective and that the correct methodology may not have been used. However, we should not just consider the position in Sweden, rather it should be part of a process. There should be an independent body with no axe to grind and whose sole interest would be to come up with propositions and recommendations exclusively directed towards the best interests of the child without regard to various relationships. That would inform the debate and be a valuable input in teasing out what is an extremely complex issue. Just because it is complex does not mean we should not address it.

Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin: Information on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Zoom on Niall Ó Brolcháin  I will not take up much of the House’s time but I ask the Minister to examine this important area because legislation will be needed on it in due course. The proposed amendments have great merit.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  I thank the Senator.

Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin: Information on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Zoom on Niall Ó Brolcháin  The rights of the child are important in these cases. I hope the Minister can introduce legislation at a future date.

Senator Eugene Regan: Information on Eugene Regan  Zoom on Eugene Regan  I support the amendments for the reasons I set out. These protections should be in the legislation, although I understand the Minister has no intention of adopting them.

Minister for Justice and Law Reform (Deputy Dermot Ahern): Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Under section 7 of the Guardian of Children Acts 1964 to 1997, the father, mother or adoptive parent of a child may appoint a testamentary guardian. In a case where a child is being brought up by a parent and a civil partner, the parent is free to appoint the civil partner as testamentary guardian of the child. Although such guardianship does not bring with it succession rights, the testamentary guardian will otherwise have parental responsibilities if he or she is the sole remaining guardian of the child. The matter may be complicated if the child has another living parent who is a guardian. Any dispute over custody and guardianship in such a case may be referred to the courts, which shall take the welfare of the child as their first and paramount priority in considering what orders to make. We believe, therefore, that amendment No. 5 is unnecessary.

[250]There is clear provision in existing law for a parent to decide who best should care for his or her children in the event of his or her death. Often, the person concerned is a spouse, trusted relative or, with the passage of this legislation, a civil partner. The amendment specifies that the civil partner shall have the same parental relationship with the child without regard to wider circumstances. This may remove the discretion of the child’s civil partner parent to decide who should be the child’s guardian. It may also infringe on the rights of another guardian of the child and we believe it ignores the sometimes complex relationships between parents and their children.

Amendment No. 37 proposes extensive reforms to the Guardian of Children Acts. It would have an effect on a marital family where the child is not the offspring of the marriage, which is outside the scope of the Bill, as well as on civil partners. I have outlined the strong advice I received from the Attorney General regarding the constitutional scrutiny required of this Bill. The issue of giving a unit which is not based on marriage a constitutional authority that is substantively identical to a family would probably be viewed as reneging on the Constitution’s protection for the latter.

  11 o’clock

I do not want to rehearse our earlier discussion on children generally but the Law Reform Commission is examining this area. In regard to Senator Bacik’s specific question, the LRC indicated approximately six months ago that it would require 18 months to prepare a report. I do not think it is necessary to state that I have full confidence in the commission. However, that is not to say this or any other Government should slavishly adopt its recommendations on any subject. The home defence Bill which I will publish tomorrow is based on a Law Reform Commission report in that area but we are not going as far as it recommends. Similarly, we will debate the Multi-Units Development Bill 2009 in the Dáil tomorrow. With due respect to the LRC, the Bill we published some time after it issued its own draft legislation on this subject was much more comprehensive. The rationale behind the commission is to bring together independent experts who can objectively investigate a range of issues and make reports and recommendations to Government and the Oireachtas. Senator Walsh called for independent and objective analysis of these issues but what better place than the Oireachtas to consider them? We are elected to make those decisions. The Government proposes and the Oireachtas disposes.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  We need a free vote for that to happen.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  We always have a free vote.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I do not worry about the ability of the Oireachtas to deal objectively with issues. Senator Feeney described the example of a female same-sex couple, one of whom is the biological parent of a child. Leaving aside the testamentary guardianship issue, they can make arrangements for the death of one or both partners in the form of a will but this would be subject to the Succession Act 1965. If the biological parent previously divorced the natural father of the child, the father may be entitled to a legal share under the 1965 Act. If there are other children from previous relationships, they could apply under section 117 of the Act for proper provision on the basis that they were not looked after. These are not simple issues.

As I noted in my response to amendment No. 1, Irish law gives primacy to the biological link between parent and child in assigning rights and duties. While emotive issues arise from the loving relationships between children and same-sex couples, this does not detract from the rights of natural parents who are not part of this relationship. The Supreme Court has ruled that they are constitutionally entitled to these rights irrespective of whether they exercise them. John Waters regularly defends the rights of unmarried fathers and this is a relatively analogous [251]situation in that ignoring the rights of a natural father in the example to which Senator Feeney referred would be a contravention of the Constitution. That is further reason for looking at this issue in a holistic and comprehensive way. I accept the bona fides of Senators who say they are not happy we are opposing their amendments but the Ombudsman for Children accepts wider issues arise.

Senator Norris raised a case which he acknowledged was hypothetical involving a biological parent who is the same-sex partner of the adoptive parent of the child.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  One parent has the child and the other adopts him or her.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The biological parent would have to sign away his or her rights before the child could be adopted by the other partner. I hazard a guess that this is an unusual situation which is highly unlikely to arise.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  It is possible.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Senator Mullen spoke about the issue of adoption. I do not like to bring personal circumstances into a debate, but as an adoptive parent who has been through the adoption process, I know that the best interests of the child, rather than the interests of the adoptive parents, are primary in the decision to sanction an adoption. It is entirely a matter within the law laid down by the Oireachtas for the Adoption Board to authorise an adoption in circumstances as they are presented to it. I fully accept that there have been circumstances in which same-sex couples have adopted children. To the best of my knowledge, such circumstances were not envisaged when the legislation was initiated. The exceptional circumstances to which it refers relate mainly to the circumstances cited by the Senator.

I return to the central point, namely, that whether through the Hague Convention or our Adoption Acts, the best interests of the child are regarded as paramount, which is as it should be. Ultimately, the decision should be left to the Adoption Board, which has served the country well in that respect. The Senator may be correct that the Oireachtas should discuss this issue in due course. It might not necessarily form part of the deliberations of the Law Reform Commission on the Legal Aspects of Family Relationships report.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  While I had not intended to contribute further on this amendment, the Minister stated that the complexity of these issues — all sides acknowledge that they are complex — could be addressed by the Executive making proposals and the Oireachtas making decisions on the disposal of these complex matters. If it is suggested that this will be done under the Whip system, the necessary checks and balances will not be in place. If, however, a free vote will apply, as I believe it should, Members of the Oireachtas may have personal views on the matter. To have these views informed by socio-scientific studies that have been collated independently would be of remarkable assistance to the process given the large number of issues involved and the difficulty associated with steering our way through these matters and arriving at good decisions in the interests specifically of children.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  I move amendment No. 6:

[252]

This amendment, which was, I understand, tabled on Report Stage in the Dáil, responds to submissions we received. Its purpose is to address injustices that are occurring by extending the coverage of protection by broadening the category of person who may apply to the court to make a declaration of civil partnership status. This would apply in cases where a person has died before the date of the application, in other words, where one of the civil partners has died and the other applies for a declaration of civil partnership status. Currently, section 4 requires that the deceased person was domiciled in the State or ordinarily resident in the State for one year immediately preceding the date of death. The amendment proposes to broaden this to provide that the person had been ordinarily resident in the State for a period of one year at some stage prior to the death rather than immediately prior to the death.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Declarations as regards civil partnership status will rarely be required. If, after the passage of this Bill, a person enters a civil partnership here, he or she will always be entitled to be treated as a civil partner for the purposes of Irish law, unless and until the civil partnership is dissolved. Likewise, if a person has entered a civil partnership or equivalent registered partnership elsewhere and both of the couple are alive on the date that the relevant order recognising that relationship comes into effect, he or she will always be entitled to be treated as a civil partner for the purposes of Irish law, again unless and until that civil partnership is dissolved. This includes for all relevant rights and obligations which accrue under civil partnership, including succession, pensions, shared home protection and so forth.

The circumstances in which a declaration as to the status may be required are, for example, where a relationship entered into in another state was dissolved and there is a question as to the validity of the dissolution, whether it took place in the same state or another, or perhaps where a civil partnership entered into in this jurisdiction was purported to be dissolved in another jurisdiction after the couple concerned had moved their permanent domicile elsewhere. This may have implications for whether the civil partner is free to enter a new civil partnership or whether the person has certain succession rights and so forth.

In a case where the relevant person does not have a direct or continuing connection with the State, it is not appropriate to confer jurisdiction on our courts to deal with such matters. However, domicile gives extensive jurisdiction to our courts because it is not easy to lose domicile in this State. In 2003, the Supreme Court judgment in F.L. v. D.T. related to a foreign divorce of a married couple who had emigrated to the Netherlands in 1988. The court concurred with the prior finding of the High Court that the couple’s Dutch divorce obtained in 1994 was not recognised in Ireland on the basis that the husband’s domicile was still in Ireland. In the judgment in question, Chief Justice Keane remarked: “Evidence as to a form of residence in a foreign country so dependant on the particular personal circumstances of the person alleged to have abandoned a domicile of origin is very far removed from the evidence of a fixed intention to make one’s permanent home in a foreign country, which the authorities stipulate as the essential precondition to a finding that a domicile of origin has been abandoned and a domicile of choice acquired.” As I indicated, it is very difficult to lose a domicile of origin.

The jurisdiction we have conferred on our courts is directly comparable with the jurisdiction in relation to marital status. This is based on clear, well-understood and applied principles of jurisdiction in private international law. I do not see any case for deviating from that settled policy. This is exactly what pertains in regard to the manner in which we deal with foreign divorces.

[253]Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  I am grateful for the Minister’s considered response, in light of which I do not propose to press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 4 agreed to.

Acting Chairman (Senator Maurice Cummins): Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Amendments Nos. 7 to 9, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  I move amendment No. 7:

Section 5 relates to recognition of registered foreign relationships. The amendments are all aimed at strengthening this provision. The first amendment is a simple statement that the provisions will cover relationships entered into prior to the commencement of the section. I believe this may already be the case. Given that the Minister is nodding, I presume the amendment is unnecessary. It was proposed for the simple purpose of clarifying that persons who had entered same-sex marriages or partnerships abroad prior to the commencement of the Act would still be entitled to recognition. I am glad this is clear from the wording.

The Labour Party supports amendment No. 8 in the name of Senator Norris which addresses an important point on which I have received submissions. Where a gay couple get married abroad in a jurisdiction in which same-sex marriage is recognised, as it is increasingly in various European jurisdictions, including most recently Portugal, as well as Canada, South Africa and elsewhere, under section 5 a marriage contracted abroad will only be recognised here as a civil partnership. Senator Norris has correctly tabled a simple and straightforward amendment providing that the Minister can declare a class of legal relationship to be entered into by two parties of the same-sex as entitled to be recognised as a civil partnership or marriage. Under section 5, as it stands, the Minister would only be entitled to recognise a Canadian same-sex marriage as a civil partnership here, which clearly does not give the marriage equivalent status to that accorded in Canadian law. From the point of view of the couple concerned, this could be viewed as a downgrading of their status since they have entered a marriage. We propose to give recognition to foreign marriages as marriages rather than just as civil partnerships. It is complicated because there are many types of civil partnership across EU countries, some open to same-sex and opposite-sex couples and some only to same-sex couples. It is difficult to say they are all equal. The amendment recognises that same-sex couples may marry abroad.

Amendment No. 9 is to address submissions we received about individual cases of hardship where persons have died before the Bill commences. While we very much hope that will not happen, there may be cases where people would wish to enter a civil partnership arrangement but there is likely to be some delay before the Bill is commenced. If one partner in a relationship dies before the Bill is commenced, we are seeking to ensure that if they entered a foreign civil partnership or marriage abroad, that could be recognised retrospectively here as a valid civil partnership. Perhaps the Minister can clarify when the Bill is likely to be commenced and whether he is willing to accept amendments Nos. 8 and 9. I will not press amendment No. 7 in the light of what he has said.

[254]Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I agree with Senator Bacik that the issue of foreign relationships is extremely important. The Minister may remember a previous occasion — it may have been on the Order of Business — when I brought in three enormous files, each 1 ft thick. That is the degree of the practical problem on the ground. It is essential that we establish a clear position on the recognition of foreign relationships. Senator Bacik has absolutely intuited what I intended in this amendment. While I will not press it tonight, I reserve the right to re-enter it, as I might do with some other ones, on Report Stage.

I would like the Minister to consider the following proposition. I am sure he is well aware that the Icelandic Prime Minister, Johanna Sigurdardottir, has married within the last week in Reykjavik her female, same-sex, partner. That is a marriage. If there was a visit, or a decision to come and live in this country, would the Minister consider it appropriate to purport to downgrade the recognition given to that relationship in a foreign country? That would be colossal impertinence. I would be astonished if that happened. We ought to have respect for other institutions. Even if there is reluctance to recognise marriage here, we should certainly recognise the right of other jurisdictions to make what arrangements they democratically, with free votes, in full conscience, with due deference to tolerance and all the rest of that decide to make for their citizens.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  One cannot but comment on these amendments.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  One can exercise restraint.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  We will not detain the Minister with any comments on section 7.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  I remind Senator Mullen that we are on amendment No. 7. We are not on section 7 yet.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  I will take a lecture from Senator Norris on restraint at some future point when we have both undergone Operation Transformation.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I had the Operation Transformation. We won it, did we not, Senator Buttimer?

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  The Senator might need to have the operation, full stop.

The maxim here is that those who join the army wear the boots. The Icelandic Prime Minister and her consort would be most welcome to settle in Ireland. However, if we are to have any sense, sanity or coherence in our laws, I am afraid we would have to insist that we define marriage according to our own laws.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  She would be unmarried temporarily during her visit.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator Mullen to continue without interruption, please.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  We have had complicated situations in the past about prime ministerial consorts which need not detain the House at this hour of night. It would make a mockery of our laws on marriage if they were to be subjected to the lowest common denominator of marriage laws internationally. It would also mean that to redefine marriage in Ireland all that would be needed would be for a same-sex couple to go abroad and contract to a marriage — so-called — in the jurisdiction where there is a thing called same-sex marriage. Such amendments make no sense as they would mean that our laws have no coherence.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  They do not.

[255]Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  We have had this debate in the context of the divorce regime. We went to considerable trouble to define in what circumstances our Constitution and our laws would permit the dissolution of a marriage. We have had debates about the impact of change in European law on our ability to maintain coherence in our marriage laws. I would certainly disagree with that.

Amendment No. 9 seems to be the civil partnership equivalent of what would be called baptism by desire. It would not add to the clarity, coherence or the intrinsic fairness of our laws.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Amendment No. 7 proposes to specify that a relationship entered into prior to making an order under section 5 is also recognised by that order. However, there is no doubt that this is already the case. The wording of section 5 makes this abundantly clear. A relevant relationship is recognised from the later of the date on which the order took effect or the date on which that relationship was entered into. For example if a couple entered into a civil partnership in the United Kingdom in 2006, that relationship will be recognised as and from the date on which the relevant order takes effect. If a couple entered a same-sex marriage in Spain in 2012, a relevant order having been made in 2011, their relationship will be recognised as and from the date of their marriage. Officials in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel considered the issue carefully during the drafting of the Bill. Since the passage of the Bill through the other House my officials have again reconfirmed with the Office of the Attorney General that this is the correct and only interpretation possible. As I believe Senator Bacik has already acknowledged, amendment No. 7 is unnecessary.

On amendment No. 8, section 5 makes provision for recognition by ministerial order of certain legal relationships entered into by same-sex couples in other jurisdictions as being entitled to the same legal treatment in Ireland as a civil partnership. The amendment is intended to allow such relationships to be recognised as a civil partnership and a marriage, presumably in the case where the relevant relationship is a marriage between a same-sex couple entered into in a country such as Spain, Canada, Belgium or South Africa, which provide for marriage between same-sex couples.

Public discussion since the Bill was published has concentrated on a number of specific areas of which the most fundamental is why we have not decided to open civil marriage to same-sex couples. My clear legal advice on this area has consistently been that it would not be constitutionally sound to legislate for same-sex marriage without holding a constitutional referendum on the definition of family. Marriage may not be expressly defined in the Constitution, but it has always been understood in common law as being between a man and a woman, ideally for life. I do not believe the necessary political and social consensus exists to make such a constitutional referendum desirable. The all-party Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Constitution concluded that a referendum to change the definition of family would be extremely divisive and would by no means be certain of success. When I was party to the Commission on the Family, its report was unable to define the family as such.

Amendment No. 9 allows for recognition of foreign civil partnership where one of the partners dies before the section is commenced and possibly prior to the enactment of the Bill. The effect would be to give recognition here of a foreign-registered civil partnership entered into, for example, in 2006 where one of the partners died, for example, in 2008 when civil partnership was not recognised in the State. This would introduce grave uncertainty for the tax code and for succession law. It is not possible to provide for retrospective recognition of foreign civil partnerships where there is a potential detriment to third parties, such as by improving the share of a surviving partner in their deceased partner’s estate.

It has been suggested that the Lourdes Marriage Act 1972 provides a direct precedent to allow retrospective recognition. However, I cannot accept this. There is a substantive difference [256]between the situation of an opposite sex couple who marry in another jurisdiction with the belief that marriage is internationally recognised and binding, and that of a couple who enter into a same sex civil partnership elsewhere in the full knowledge that there is no provision made in Irish law for recognition of that relationship. In the first circumstance, the couple have always assumed that they are married for the purposes of Irish law with all its rights and obligations. In the latter circumstance, the couple can have no assumption in respect of rights and benefits that would accrue to them under existing Irish law.

The amendment would also have a discriminatory effect on the basis of nationality. Some of a particular category of legal relationships where the partner has died would be recognised as existing at a particular time, whereas others would not be recognised, depending on whether one or both of the partners was Irish and was resident in Ireland at the time the relationship was registered. A further anomaly would arise simply if the couple had registered the relationship before the arbitrary cut off point of 1 January 2004.

The amendment also proposed the insertion of a new subsection 4. This would create a new function for an tArd-Chláraitheoir in enabling him to register relationships entered into in another jurisdiction as civil partnerships. The making of a ministerial order under section 5(1) is sufficient in itself to entitle the parties to foreign registered relationships to be treated as civil partners of each other under the law of the State. There is no requirement or necessity for re-registration. By way of comparison, opposite sex couples who marry in another jurisdiction are neither required nor permitted to re-register their marriages under Irish law. There is no reason that couples entitled to be treated as civil partners should do so either.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 8 and 9 not moved.

Section 5 agreed to.

Section 6 agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Amendments Nos. 9a, 10 to 13, inclusive, 16, 17, 38 to 57, inclusive, and 77 are related and may be discussed together.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I move amendment No. 9a :

These amendments go to the core of the motivation that has prompted us to relinquish the Whip of our own party, which has been a difficult decision for all three of us. It goes back to comments we have made over a long period about upholding the constitutional position of marriage, specifically for the reason that the constitutional protection is provided.

Marriage is not only the foundation stone for the family, but it is also for society. This has been the case for many generations. We need to be extremely careful that we do not jettison an institution that has stood society in good stead for many generations and many centuries. It is a Christian institution, but not only that. No matter what part of the world one visits, the structures of the society and the value system they have within their society emanates from the quality of their family systems. One will be struck by this in many parts of the world, particularly in China, where there is a strong family ethos.

[257]We should remind ourselves that those Christian values have given rights to us. It is fair to say that our human rights in the main flow from those Christian values.

We are proposing to delete the paragraph that defines civil status. We feel that putting civil status in is creating the equivalence between marital status and civil partnership status, to which we object. We have replaced it with what we think is a reasonable amendment, which replaces it with marital status and civil partnership status. I do not want to anticipate the Minister’s response, but I hope we will not be reducing the importance of marital status to society down to an issue of administrative convenience.

The child focus of marriage is the main reason — perhaps the only reason — it enjoys the unique constitutional protection that is specified therein. It puts an onus on the State to protect it in unique ways and to give it the necessary financial and other supports in order to maintain it as the priority that it has for society. It follows obviously from this that the State must respect marriage.

We are of the view that this particular amendment, and the change in the wording, is inconsequential for the thrust of the intent of the Bill to bring benefits to civil partnership between people in same sex relationships who commit to each other. However, we think it is very important for the signal that society gets from the Minister, the Government and these legislative Houses. For that reason, we think it is important. It is also fair to say this signal is also being sent to adolescents and we see an importance in that.

I ask that the Minister concede this particular amendment, which does not cause any particular difficulties from the point of view of a genuine distinction, if the intent of this Bill is to recognise clearly the distinction between the marital status and the civil partnership status, and that they are not all left under the same heading of civil status, which insinuates the equivalence we will not and cannot support for reasons I have outlined.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  This amendment goes right to the core of what people who have been endeavouring to put forward a counter balance to the debate on this Bill have been saying for a long time. The Minister has been saying the same thing. In other words, the civil partnership Bill is not marriage. The reason for that is that marriage as we understand it is protected within the Constitution. If we were to conflict with that, it is evident we would require a referendum. If we had a referendum, there really would be a full and comprehensive public debate on this Bill and its import.

At the same time, we are sending a message to the people that we are talking about civil status. It is important we differentiate between marital status and civil partnership status in the legislation. I cannot understand how anyone who supports this Bill, on the basis the Minister put it to us, could disagree with this amendment. In many ways, it would remove much of the confusion and misunderstanding.

I am also surprised that it takes an amendment to highlight these issues. Considering the matters we have been discussing in regard to the Constitution, one would have thought we would have embraced those very same points within the legislation when it came to us. For that reason, I support this amendment. I hope that even at this late stage, it will be possible for the Minister to understand the reason we have tabled this amendment and how it would help to clarify any misunderstanding among the public.

Senator John Hanafin: Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  With my two colleagues, I support the amendment which would clearly define the difference between civil partnership and marriage. That is the crux of the issue we wish to raise.

[258]Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Feicim go bhfuil Ceannaire an tSeanaid tagtha isteach inár measc. Níl a fhios agam an bhfuil sé chun an fheadóg a shéideadh. Más ea, bheadh an-bhrón orm. D’fhéadfainn a rá leis níos luaithe go bhféadfaimís roinnt den díospóireacht a chur ar ceal agus bua na Spáinne a fheiscint. Ní mar sin a tharla.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  On the amendment.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Football at this time of the night.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  I compliment Senators Walsh, Ó Murchú and Hanafin on tabling their amendment. Senator Quinn and I have tabled an amendment along similar lines. It appears for the first time at the definition stage. We propose that on page 16, line 37, we delete the words “civil status” and substitute them with the phrase “marital or civil status” which would encompass the range of possibilities, including single, married, separated, divorced and so on and that elsewhere in the Bill, where the words “civil status” appear and in the Acts to be amended by this Bill, the phrase “marital or civil status” would appear.

Recently, I took part in a debate on the constitutional referendum on children. One of the points I made was that the opening line in the proposed amendment that came from the Oireachtas joint committee was that the State would cherish all the children of the State equally. I regarded that as being rather sloppily drafted and rather uncertain in its meaning, both now and in the context of future interpretation by the courts.

One can say that sometimes when one starts out with a change of terminology or phrase in important legislation or in constitutional provisions, it is a bit like a ship changing course ever so slightly. It does not seem to make much difference at the outset of the journey but it can make a hell of a difference at the point of destination.

This amendment may look like it is symbolic. In many ways, it is in the sense that it does not touch on the fundamental definition of civil partnership or the question of whether we should generously encompass other caring dependent relationships or whether we should provide for people’s legitimate disagreements and conscience around certain issues. It does not deal with any of those practical and portentous issues which surface in the Bill but, none the less, it could have a huge impact in terms of the ongoing shaping of our culture, of which all our legislation is part.

Everyone has a marital status, whether single, divorced, separated or married. The point is that in the future, they will not have a marital status but a civil status. That may not seem to make a whole pile of difference to many people. I accept that, at some level, it may seem to be a symbolic change. However, the underlying approach to the drafting and shaping of this Bill has sought to insist at all times that marriage continues to be special, different and privileged by the Constitution and respected in our laws in harmony with the Constitution. The logic of that is that we should not change people’s marital status to the civil status simpliciter. If anything, the phrase “marital or civil status” envisages a certain compromise in that it recognises that there is now for the first time a new kind of State-sponsored, State-recognised partnership between people.

For example, one could argue that civil partnership is a marital status of the non-marital kind of partnership but it makes some sense to maintain the special nature of marriage in the house and at front of house. This is one of those front of house amendments. It is about what we call things, how we name things and, ultimately, how we see things. For that reason, we should keep marriage and the concept of marriage as a cherished institution in our society — I suppose it is the most cherished of all — front and centre at all times. Therefore, our language and that of the Constitution, legislation and forms, whether applications for goods or services, [259]should reflect the special status we give to marriage. It is on that basis I propose these amendments but I will listen with interest to what the Minister has to say about my colleagues’ alternative amendments.

Senator Feargal Quinn: Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  I spoke on Second Stage and said the reason I supported this Bill, subject I hope to certain amendments, was because of the loneliness of those who had been left behind by our legislation in the past. The fact we did not have divorce, contraceptive legislation or legislation in regard to homosexuality meant there were some very lonely people. I believe that loneliness very often led to suicide and we did not have steps to protect us from that. I mention that because it is important we pass legislation which closes those gaps in society. We have closed most of those gaps in recent years, or perhaps opened them might be the word. I want to give that opportunity to those who have been left behind by what I would call the legislation which put a stigma on homosexuality.

Given the answer these Houses found, namely, civil partnership which was acceptable to all sides, I felt the legislation was certainly going in the right direction. These amendments pinpoint very clearly that the intention of this legislation is to have civil partnership and not a full marriage. All these amendments do is ensure and emphasise that is the intention. They are worthy of consideration and should be accepted.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I listened with great interest to five speeches all on the same side and, for a little bit of balance, I would like to say a few words. I regret that I had no idea my colleague on these benches, Senator Quinn, was so extraordinarily insensitive that he is not aware of how patronising his remarks were. He said we are lonely and left behind. For God’s sake, it reminds me of Jimmy Saville at 2 a.m. on the BBC and shut-ins. I am not a shut-in. I am not the slightest bit lonely. I think I know as much about this as Senator Quinn because I have been working in this area. At one stage, there was a proposal in the Hirschfeld Centre, which was very well meant, to have a group called the lonely gay society. I thought, that will really copperfasten our lousy self-image. I do not like it. I do not like this nasty thing of trying to rub our noses in it and downgrade us. That is what Senator Quinn was doing and that is why I find it very difficult to entertain the warm feelings I previously did towards him. I say this in all honesty and with regret. However, that is a fact. I very strongly object to being patronised. If that is offensive, it is not half as offensive as what has been said in the House by various people.

This matter has been discussed already. It was discussed in the Title and I made my feelings clear on that. I hope we can dispose of it quickly and get rid of it.

Senator Eugene Regan: Information on Eugene Regan  Zoom on Eugene Regan  These amendments have no merit. The term “civil status” is defined as being “single, married, separated, divorced or widowed”. It is not a great extension of that term to include a civil status for a former partner in a civil partnership that has ended. The amendments would make a nonsense of the proposed legislation.

Senator Norris is right. We have discussed this in the context of the Title of the Bill. The amendments should be rejected out of hand.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I understand where Senator Quinn is coming from and I disagree profoundly with my good friend, Senator Norris. In fairness to Senator Quinn, his comments are fair and balanced, unlike the amendments. They have no merit.

Senator Ó Murchú spoke about the import of the Bill and Senators Walsh and Hanafin spoke about the crux of their opposition to the Bill. Herein lies the crux as I understand from them. The Bill is about civil partnership and the tenet of it is civil status. That is what the Bill is about. It is about creating a civil partnership and recognising that partnership. I have a [260]profound difficulty with the amendments. I have listened to the debate on this section of the Bill and I cannot understand where the amendments are coming from. They are the beginning of an attack on what the Bill is about.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  That is why they have opposed 64 sections. Is that constructive?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Are we to be true democrats and true republicans? I understand the bona fides of all people in this Chamber on both sides of the argument and my speech on Second Stage reflected that.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  We cannot have a Second Stage speech now. We are discussing amendments.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I appreciate that, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. I am on the amendments. I understand you have a difficult job to do. We must not shirk our responsibility. We must not stand and allow people to use their own views to jettison a Bill or to hijack people who want recognition for their partnerships. That is what these amendments are about. We either stand up and be counted or we do not. I genuinely understand Senator Quinn’s comments. He is not wrong, but we cannot have it both ways. We are either for civil partnership and recognition of unions or we are not.

I ask Members who proposed the amendments what is wrong with the wording of the Bill. What is so clearly wrong with what Senator Regan said is the definition of civil status? It does not mean there will be no change in status between single and married. It does not mean that at all. Senator Mullen should stop peddling nonsense.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  To whose speech was Senator Buttimer listening? Had he headphones on?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  The Bill gives legitimacy to same sex couples and heterosexual couples in cohabitation relationships.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Senator Buttimer must not have been listening to what I said.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I have been listening to him all day, with respect. This is important. I hope the Minister, in his reply, will make it crystal clear. This is not an attack on marriage or on anybody. It is enhancing and enriching and is creating a better world for our fellow citizens, irrespective of creed or beliefs.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  On my behalf and on behalf of the Labour Party, I oppose these amendments. We have already discussed the same concept in amendment No. 1.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  One of the Senator's amendments is being discussed in this group.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  I do not see how that could be. Apologies, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. I do not see one of my amendments in the group.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Which amendment do you have in mind, a Leas-Chathaoirligh?

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  Amendment No. 76 is mine. It is not in this group.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  I apologise. The Senator is correct.

[261]Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  There is none of mine in the group. These amendments are all aimed at doing the same thing, which is, essentially, undermining the thrust of the legislation. We oppose that. I have already expressed my objection to them. To make the proposed amendments would be to downgrade the status of civil partnership. They are illogical because the provisions they are attempting to amend are simply technical provisions amending the Civil Registration Act 2004 to include within it the necessary references to civil partnership brought about as a result of this legislation. I do not see what the proposers are attempting to do, short of undermining, in a mean minded way, the concept of civil partnership and trying to downgrade it as much as possible. I object to these amendments.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  My colleagues say they do this in a constructive manner. They say they are approaching the Bill in a constructive manner and welcome it. I find this a very curious use of the word “constructive” when they have opposed no fewer than 64 sections of the Bill.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Senator Norris made that point.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator Norris, we are discussing this group of amendments.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I am commenting upon the idea that this kind of opposition is constructive or is not constructive.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Here we go all over again.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  This is clearly not constructive. Could I seek a ruling, a Leas-Chathaoirligh? My eyesight is not as good as it was. Are you in the Chair or is Senator Mullen in the Chair, because I am receiving instructions from both?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator Norris, that is an attack on the Chair.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  It is not at all. I have great difficulty hearing.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  We are discussing a group of amendments I outlined at the beginning. This is the Senator's second time to speak before the Minister replies. He must speak to the amendments.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Okay. Fine.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  I call Senator Mullen.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  It is his second time too.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  I am sorry to have been interjecting, because I know Senator Norris never, ever does it. I should be ashamed of myself.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  He has discovered irony.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Is that irony? Senator Feargal Quinn has the esteem and affection of almost everyone in the House. Insensitive is the last word any of us would use about him.

It comes down to this. People have a profound difficulty with aspects of this Bill. What would one expect from them but substantial and numerous attempts to change it. It is not about being obstructive in some blind illogical fashion. It is about looking at the things in the Bill we believe are not pursuant to the common good, are not in the best interests of our society, do not advance a culture of fairness and give preferential treatment to some over and above others, and about targeting those for changes.

[262]An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator Mullen, that is a Second Stage speech.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Senator Buttimer was right to defend my colleague’s honour but he did something many people have done in the House today. He has argued against points that were not made. I heard people making arguments about the Catholic Church’s teaching, for example, as though people opposing the Bill wanted to enshrine the Catholic Church’s teaching in the law.

It is a fact that marriage under our Constitution is regarded as special and to be protected in a particular way. It flows from this that one would seek that any legislation touching on marriage or other relationships would maintain the centrality of marriage as the preferred social norm. That is, if one likes, the elephant in the room — the underlying constitutional position. It is a position which the Government is not ready to deny, at least not yet.

  12 midnight

Senator Buttimer makes the mistake in that he thinks in some way, by our suggesting any references to “civil status” be changed to “marital or civil status”, we would be undermining the essential provisions of the Bill, when nothing could be further from the truth. It does not undermine any of what the Bill actually provides for but it selects a kind of nomenclature that sends out a cultural and social message about the centrality of marriage. It says more about other people’s willingness to undermine marriage that they would have a difficulty with what is being proposed here and that they seem to resent the idea that marital status would be kept in a central way. What Senator Buttimer does not seem to have recognised or realised, or what his comments did not recognise, is that this is not just about what is in this Bill. The Bill amends many other Acts and it therefore has implications for existing laws and for existing references in those laws——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator will have to speak to the amendments.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  I am speaking to the amendment. I am explaining why it is necessary to maintain the concept of marital or civil status so that, for example, in the equal status legislation we will not be just changing the prohibited ground of discrimination of marital status to civil status——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator is being repetitive. He has said this already.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  On a point of order, we tabled these amendments and we did not do so lightly. Senator Mullen has tabled amendments which relate to these amendments and he should be given the opportunity to make his point.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator is being repetitive.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Nílim. Táimid ag dul i dtreo an mheánoíche anois agus séard atá i gceist agam ná tuilleadh scagtha a dhéanamh ar an mhéid atá faoi chaibidil.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  We cannot have Second Stage speeches on Committee Stage.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Nuair a dhéanann an Seanadóir Buttimer botún, is gá domsa dul isteach le míniú eile le go mbeidh mé in ann an rud a shoiléiriú dhó agus do dhaoine eile le go mbeidh tuiscint níos fearr againn.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Níl an ceart agat.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Chomh fada agus is eol domsa, níl aon teorann ar an mhéid ama ina bhfuil cead ag daoine labhairt ar an Chéim seo de phlé an Bhille. I ask the Leas-Chathaoirleach [263]to bear in mind we are not limited for time. It was necessary for me to bring in some clarification because Senator Buttimer clearly misunderstood——

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I did not misunderstand.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  As George Bush would say, he perhaps “misunderestimated” our tenacity but he clearly misunderstood the effect of the change from marital status to civil status throughout the Bill, and he clearly misunderstood the intended effect of our amendments.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I have said many times since the Bill began in this House and the other House that the Government and the Oireachtas are constrained in how far we can go because of the Constitution. I said many times that there are detailed and distinct differences between what is being proposed in this Bill, namely, civil partnership, and marriage, as Senator Mullen said. While I cannot recall his exact words, the Senator begrudgingly, I think, states that the Government acknowledges this is in the Constitution. It is clear that everything we have done in this regard, and Senator Walsh accepted this, was done in order to craft this legislation to show a clear distinction between marriage and civil partnership. As I said, that may not satisfy people who want full marriage for same-sex couples and it may not satisfy others who feel we are nearly going too far and equating civil partnership with marriage in some instances. That is a matter of opinion. I have on previous occasions and I can again during the discussion on this Bill clearly indicate at least ten if not more clear distinctions between marriage and civil partnership. I do not say that in any victorious way or in any way in which I would suggest that marriage is higher than civil partnership, but obviously it has to be because that is what the Constitution states.

What we are dealing with here is terminology. To date, the discussion has revolved around the change from using the term “marital status” to the overarching term “civil status”. This does not in any way constitute a downgrading of marriage in any sense, nor could it, because of the very views we have expressed in regard to the special status of marriage as per the Constitution. As has previously been said, “civil status” means single, married, separated, divorced, widowed, in a civil partnership or being a former civil partner in a civil partnership that has ended by death or being dissolved. Again, I point out it is an overarching term which includes both marital and civil partnership status.

The distinction the Senator is trying to get at is totally unnecessary in that the definition of “civil partnership” includes all of those terms. The Bill extends protection from discrimination to take account of the civil partnership we are creating here — no more, no less. The term “civil status” is being substituted for “marital status” throughout the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000 so that the statutory obligation not to discriminate against a person on the ground that the person is single, married, separated, divorced or widowed is now being extended to prohibit discrimination against a person based on that person being in a registered civil partnership or formally in a registered civil partnership which is being dissolved. While some may quibble with the terminology, I hope they accept it is important if we pass this legislation that we include civil partnership and those other aspects of it in the existing legislation about non-discrimination from an equality point of view. Perhaps Members could clarify this point if it is otherwise.

The term “civil partnership” is substituted for “marital status” throughout the Civil Registration Act 2004 and in that context the change is made for primarily administrative reasons. The separate recording on forms of marital status and civil partnership status would otherwise inevitably lead to the collection of incomplete and misleading information. For example, if we pass this Bill civil partners could be obliged to record themselves on a census form as single under the marital status designation, if we accept the Senator’s suggestion, and as civil partners [264]under the civil partnership status. Therefore, they would be designated on the same form as having both states. Should single people record themselves under both states or only under one status which conforms to their particular sexual orientation? While I understand what the Senator is suggesting, if it is merely to try to emphasise the distinction between marriage and civil partnership, that is fair enough, but if it is going to the heart of this issue, which is the extension of discrimination against civil partners if we pass this legislation, I would like to hear it.

A criticism has been levelled that this substitution reduces the status of marriage to one of a list of possibilities. This is not valid since in some places where the term civil status is now proposed to be used, being married is already one of the list of possibilities. Marital status in the relevant enactments includes at least five separate possibilities — single, married, separated, divorced or widowed. For completeness the further categories of being a civil partner or being a former civil partner whose relationship has ended on death or dissolution are being added.

I am not saying Senator Walsh accepts the bona fides of the Government, but he should accept its confirmation that this legislation has been moulded in such a way that we must acknowledge the existing constitutional protections for the family. I have said time and again that until that is changed, we are obliged, as legislators, to comply with the constitutional imperative. I suggest to Senators that they accept the Government statement that any change we are making in this respect is purely for administrative purposes in order to ensure that there will be no duplication and confusion when people are signing forms after the passage of this legislation.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  The Minister seemed to seek clarification. If I understand him correctly, he is asking if it is the intent of the amendments to detract from the protections against discrimination on the grounds of civil status under equal status legislation.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Yes. It relates to the Equality Act.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Clearly, this would be just a change of phraseology in that wherever there is a reference to civil status, there would be a reference to marital or civil status. That would apply to the proposed equality legislation also. In other words, the new prohibitive ground would be marital or civil status.

There is a separate amendment which I hope the Minister has studied in great detail and to which I hope he will respond in the affirmative. It is proposed that difficulties of conscience be specifically catered for and that there be a limitation of the scope.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I saw that and that is why I asked the question.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  There are two discrete issues. I hope the Minister will consider the amendment on its merits.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Absolutely, although I accept what the Senator says, that he is merely trying to emphasise that there is a distinction between civil status and marriage.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Correct.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  It is necessary for the Senator to say this publicly because it could be construed from what is being suggested in the amendments that there is an effort to restrict——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  There is another Senator offering.

[265]Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  With the best will in the world, I do not think what the Minister suggests could be construed from the way the amendment and related amendments are worded. It could have no impact other than at the level of nomenclature, if that is the correct word to use. It is at that symbolic, cultural and messaging level the amendment would operate.

The Minister has indicated he perceives a deficiency in what has been proposed because he suggests it might to lead to confusion. For example, people might give one answer under the heading of marital status and another under the heading of civil status. I have just heard the Minister’s comments and do not know if that is a valid criticism of what Senator Walsh is concerned with. Does the Minister accept he cannot make that criticism of what I have proposed, that we substitute one phrase with another throughout the Bill? I do not see how the particular objection raised by him could possibly apply to the amendments I have proposed.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I am not happy with the Minister’s response and there is no point in saying otherwise. On Second Stage I mentioned issues which motivated us in these amendments. On marriage breakdown, divorce and cohabitation, the graph is moving upwards. There is both a social and an economic cost, about which every Member of the House should have concerns. The amendment would not advance the issue to any great extent, but it is essential that we send a message to society that marriage is the institution on which the fabric of society is soundly based. I make no apology for saying this because of the child-centred nature of marriage. I have already conceded that if this was not the case, marriage would be the same as all other relationships, particularly those of a sexual nature. In this instance we must ensure the message is sent loud and clear. The Minister and Members such as Senators Buttimer and Bacik should know the amendment would not have any consequences for the rights being granted in the Bill to civil partnerships.

Senator Norris made some critical comments about Senator Quinn. There is no more measured or considerate person in this House than Senator Quinn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator should speak to the amendments.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Senator Norris has raised the issue of suicide many times in the House.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator should stick to the amendments.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I am sticking to them.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  What the Senator is speaking about has nothing to do with the amendments.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  With respect, it has been the pattern in the House——-

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  It has been the pattern in the House to stick to the amendments proposed.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  ——that we respond to the comments made by others on Committee Stage. That is what I am doing.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator should stick to the amendments.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  It has been suggested there is an administrative difficulty with the amendment. I see no potential difficulty in filling in forms. One should merely have a box to tick indicating whether one is married, divorced, single or in a civil partnership. We have left in the phrases “civil partnership” and “marital status” specifically because we want to retain the [266]phrase “marital status” in the Employment Act, the Equal Status Act, the Pension Act and the Social Welfare Act.

Apart from the signals sent to society, we have a further concern which has engaged me since the middle of 2000 when we had a debate within the parliamentary party.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  We will not discuss at 12.20 a.m. debates in the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I asked a question——

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Is this relevant to the amendments?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  What was in the newspaper yesterday or this morning?

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  On a point of order, how is this relevant to the amendments we are dealing with?

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  If I am allowed to continue, the Senator will see how it is relevant.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator should comment on the amendments before us.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Absolutely. The removal of the phrase “marital status” is the source of concern, as I indicated to the Minister in writing in December 2008. My specific inquiry concerned the implications of removing that phrase, given that the European Court of Justice had a remit to consider anti-discrimination measures. Therefore, as a result of what we were doing in this Bill, we could be landed in a position where the European Court of Justice would give us a direction. I asked for clarification but have not received it. The letter is dated 19 December 2008.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  That has nothing to do with the amendments.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  It relates specifically to a concerns which has motivated us in tabling the amendments before us and show why we feel so strongly about the issue. We are concerned about the implications of removing the phrase “marital status” in the Acts mentioned, particularly the Equal Status Act. I have not received clarification in that respect. My second point relates to the importance of marriage and the signal being sent to society in that regard. These beliefs are genuinely held. We did not table the amendments lightly.

Senator Lisa McDonald: Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  I am glad Senator Walsh went into more detail, despite the late hour, because he gave us a broader understanding of where he is coming from. I fundamentally disagree with him in much of what he said. I still believe what the Minister is saying is correct. There is absolutely no need for the amendments because as a society we have come to the position of civil status. To suggest that there are married couples who, through no fault of their own, cannot conceive——

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  With respect, I did not suggest that.

Senator Lisa McDonald: Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  The Senator did suggest it.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I never made that suggestion.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator McDonald to continue, without interruption.

[267]Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  I do not know from where Senator McDonald got that idea.

Senator Lisa McDonald: Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  Senator Walsh stated that if there is no procreation in a marriage, it is like any other relationship.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I never said that. What the Senator is stating is a misrepresentation of what I said.

Senator Lisa McDonald: Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  We must be honest.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  By all means, let us be absolutely honest. In such circumstances, the Senator should not misrepresent what I said.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator McDonald to continue, without interruption.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I do not want to be misrepresented. I have had enough of that in respect of this issue from Members on this side and on the other side of the House.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The record will show what the Senator said. Senator McDonald should be allowed to continue, without interruption.

Senator Lisa McDonald: Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  That was my understanding of what Senator Walsh said.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  The Senator got it wrong; she misunderstood what I said.

Senator Lisa McDonald: Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  I did not get it wrong.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator McDonald should address her remarks through the Chair.

Senator Lisa McDonald: Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  I apologise to the Leas-Chathaoirleach for not addressing my remarks through the Chair. We must try to remain in the position we have reached as a society. Putting another tick in a box would be to discriminate rather than prevent discrimination. I do not believe the amendment is worthy of acceptance.

Senator Alex White: Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  Hear, hear.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Senator Walsh appeared to state that the Bill is not about placing a tick in a box. If that is the motivation behind the amendment before the House, then each of us should review where we stand. This matter is not about placing a tick in a box. I support Senator McDonald in respect of this issue. She was correct in stating that there is no need for the amendment. I am glad the Minister agrees with Members on this side of the House. This Bill is not designed to undermine the institution of marriage. As the Minister indicated, the Constitution protects that institution. Under the Bill, marriage will not be diminished; it will, in fact, be given even further protection. Marriage is enshrined within the Constitution of this land. In such circumstances, the amendment makes no sense.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  It is getting late and people are becoming tired. However, I must admit that some terribly mixed messages are coming across in this debate at present. Senator Walsh made a comment on an administrative issue which he understood to have been raised by the Minister. That was where the box was ticked. The matter in question had nothing to do with the overall debate. Regardless of whether the Senator made his point at midnight or 4 a.m., that fact was quite clear to me. In fairness to Senator Walsh, that must be highlighted.

On the question of procreation and the family, I heard what the Senator had to say. I do not believe these are fundamental issues. There are many amendments remaining and if the debate [268]is going to come down to a particular level, then I am of the view that we will miss the opportunity, not to change the Bill — which is not going to happen — but to ensure every issue relating to it is teased out in a democratic and proper manner.

Senator Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  That is precisely what is happening.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  On the Order of Business each morning——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator should confine himself to the debate on the amendments.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  I am doing so. On the Order of Business each morning——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  That matter has nothing to do with the amendments.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  I am coming to the point. As I understand it, I am entitled to make points of this nature.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  That is correct. I am not stopping the Senator from making his points but they must be relevant to the amendments under discussion.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  We are dealing with the amendments and I am going to make my point in respect of them.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator should make his point in respect of the amendments.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  My point is clear. On the Order of Business each morning, Members refer to the importance of Seanad Éireann in the context of scrutinising every item of legislation that comes to it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  That has nothing to do with the amendments under discussion.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  That is precisely what we hope to do.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator Ó Murchú should confine himself to discussing the amendments.

Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú: Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  At present, the debate on this Bill is sinking to a very low level.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I cannot put it any more succinctly than what is stated in the Bill, namely, that civil status means being single, married, separated, divorced, widowed, in a civil partnership, etc. This does not in any way downgrade the institution of marriage.

Senator Ivana Bacik: Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  Hear, hear.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I do not wish to be antagonistic. However, I am disappointed that the people who tabled this amendment do not appear to accept my bona fides when I state that the legal advice the Government received from the Attorney General is such that it cannot cross the line in respect of the distinction between marriage and civil partnership. This is either a debate about semantics or it is about something else entirely.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  What about the issues I raised in the letter I sent to the Minister?

[269]Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  That is why I put a question to Senator Mullen on whether an effort is being made to in some way exclude those who may at present be included under the Bill and in respect of whom provision is made in the equal status and employment Acts.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  The Minister’s question in that regard was not very logical.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  There appears to be a suggestion that these people will be excluded or will be deemed to be separate from what is already recognised in existing legislation.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  The Minister should stick to the words used and should not impute motivations.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  There also appears to be a suggestion that a distinction is being made in respect of persons who are civil partners as opposed to those who are single, separate, married or divorced.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  That was not contained in the paper. We can only refer to the words that were used.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  It is important to re-emphasise that an overarching phrase which contains two words is being provided to try to deal holistically with different types of status. If the legislation is passed, those in civil partnerships will be contemplated within those different types of status.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I am not questioning the Minister’s bona fides. He knows me well enough to know that I am a straight talker. We tabled an amendment which, despite what anyone might say, is inconsequential to the interests of people who are in same-sex relationships who want to enter civil partnerships. There is no way the amendment could denigrate the position in this regard. However, the amendment constitutes a litmus test. In that context, I ask the Minister to address the genuine concerns that I raised in my letter to him dated 19 September——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  We are not discussing the Senator’s letter.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Just one second.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator cannot discuss his letter. We are discussing the amendments in this group.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I want the Minister to clarify the position in respect of this matter and indicate whether we have moved beyond the issue of family law, with regard to which the European Court of Justice had no jurisdiction. What will be the effect of this section on the Equal Status Act as a result of the removal of marital status? This is a matter of genuine concern.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I can outline the position in very blunt terms. The advice is that there are no implications whatsoever in that regard.

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”

[270]The Committee divided: Tá, 48; Níl, 5.

Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  Bacik, Ivana. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin. Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Burke, Paddy.
Information on Larry Butler  Zoom on Larry Butler  Butler, Larry. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciaran. Information on James Carroll  Zoom on James Carroll  Carroll, James.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Maria Corrigan  Zoom on Maria Corrigan  Corrigan, Maria. Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Cummins, Maurice.
Information on Mark Daly  Zoom on Mark Daly  Daly, Mark. Information on Mark Dearey  Zoom on Mark Dearey  Dearey, Mark.
Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Fidelma Healy Eames  Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames  Healy Eames, Fidelma.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Leyden, Terry.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael.
Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  McDonald, Lisa. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  Mooney, Paschal. Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Norris, David.
Information on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Zoom on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Ó Brolcháin, Niall. Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan  Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Ned. Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  O’Toole, Joe.
Information on Ann Ormonde  Zoom on Ann Ormonde  Ormonde, Ann. Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  Prendergast, Phil.
Information on Eugene Regan  Zoom on Eugene Regan  Regan, Eugene. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.
Information on Mary M. White  Zoom on Mary M. White  White, Mary M. Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.



Níl
Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  Hanafin, John. Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Mullen, Rónán.
Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás. Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  Quinn, Feargal.
Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Walsh, Jim.  

Tellers: Tá, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Rónán Mullen and Feargal Quinn.

Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  Amendment No. 10 cannot be moved.

Amendment No. 10 not moved.

Section 7 agreed to.

Sections 8 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.

Senator Jim Walsh: Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  I move amendment No. 11:

In page 19, line 26, to delete ““civil status” for “marital status” and substitute the following:

““marital status and civil partnership status” for “marital status””.

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”

[271]The Committee divided: Tá, 48; Níl, 5.

Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  Bacik, Ivana. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin. Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Burke, Paddy.
Information on Larry Butler  Zoom on Larry Butler  Butler, Larry. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciaran. Information on James Carroll  Zoom on James Carroll  Carroll, James.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Maria Corrigan  Zoom on Maria Corrigan  Corrigan, Maria. Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Cummins, Maurice.
Information on Mark Daly  Zoom on Mark Daly  Daly, Mark. Information on Mark Dearey  Zoom on Mark Dearey  Dearey, Mark.
Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Fidelma Healy Eames  Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames  Healy Eames, Fidelma.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Leyden, Terry.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael.
Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  McDonald, Lisa. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  Mooney, Paschal. Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Norris, David.
Information on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Zoom on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Ó Brolcháin, Niall. Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan  Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Ned. Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  O’Toole, Joe.
Information on Ann Ormonde  Zoom on Ann Ormonde  Ormonde, Ann. Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  Prendergast, Phil.
Information on Eugene Regan  Zoom on Eugene Regan  Regan, Eugene. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.
Information on Mary M. White  Zoom on Mary M. White  White, Mary M. Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.



Níl
Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  Hanafin, John. Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Mullen, Rónán.
Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás. Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  Quinn, Feargal.
Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Walsh, Jim.  

Tellers: Tá, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators John Hanafin and Labhrás Ó Murchú.

Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  Amendment No. 12 in the name of Senators Mullen and Quinn cannot be moved.

Amendment No. 12 not moved.

Section 14 agreed to.

Section 15 agreed to.

Senator Rónán Mullen: Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  I move amendment No. 13:

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”

[272]The Committee divided: Tá, 48; Níl, 5.

Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  Bacik, Ivana. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin. Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Burke, Paddy.
Information on Larry Butler  Zoom on Larry Butler  Butler, Larry. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciaran. Information on James Carroll  Zoom on James Carroll  Carroll, James.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Maria Corrigan  Zoom on Maria Corrigan  Corrigan, Maria. Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Cummins, Maurice.
Information on Mark Daly  Zoom on Mark Daly  Daly, Mark. Information on Mark Dearey  Zoom on Mark Dearey  Dearey, Mark.
Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus.
Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic. Information on Fidelma Healy Eames  Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames  Healy Eames, Fidelma.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Leyden, Terry.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael.
Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  McDonald, Lisa. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  Mooney, Paschal. Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Norris, David.
Information on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Zoom on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Ó Brolcháin, Niall. Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Ó Domhnaill, Brian.
Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan  Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Ned. Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  O’Toole, Joe.
Information on Ann Ormonde  Zoom on Ann Ormonde  Ormonde, Ann. Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  Prendergast, Phil.
Information on Eugene Regan  Zoom on Eugene Regan  Regan, Eugene. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.
Information on Mary M. White  Zoom on Mary M. White  White, Mary M. Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.



Níl
Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  Hanafin, John. Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Mullen, Rónán.
Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás. Information on Fergal Quinn  Zoom on Fergal Quinn  Quinn, Feargal.
Information on Jim Walsh  Zoom on Jim Walsh  Walsh, Jim.  

Tellers: Tá, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Rónán Mullen and Feargal Quinn.

Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

The Seanad adjourned at 1 a.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 8 July 2010.


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