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'The question is carried, isn't it?': The moment the government was defeated in the Seanad

It wasn’t the first time the government has lost a vote in the upper house but it came with the referendum just two days away.

YouTube: Hugh O’Connell

THE GOVERNMENT WAS given a warning of what may lie ahead if the people vote to abolish the Seanad tomorrow as it was defeated in a vote on the issue of upward only rent reviews last night.

The 27 to 23 vote against the government came on Private Members’ Bill introduced by the independent Senator Feargal Quinn to ban upward only rent reviews which the government has been unable to address itself because of fears over its compliance with the Constitution.

Even Seanad cathaoirleach Paddy Burke’s casting vote could not save the government from defeat as he, sounding somewhat surprised, remarked: “The question is carried, isn’t it?”

There had been loud cheers in the chamber just moments before that when it became clear that the government had been defeated. (Watch the video above)

The government was defeated largely due to the absence of Labour senators John Kelly, John Whelan, Denis Landy and Jimmy Harte.

Quinn’s bill now returns to the upper house next Tuesday but is unlikely to progress much further because of the government’s majority in the Dáil.

This was not the first time the government has been defeated in the current Seanad with the opposition and independent senators joining forces to defeat the coalition twice on its agenda for the day – the Order of Business – in June 2012.

There was also a near miss last August when Burke had to use his casting vote to ensure that an opposition motion on organ transplant legislation was defeated.

Last night: Government loses Seanad vote on upward only rent reviews

June 2012: Government defeated – twice – in Seanad votes over reform talks

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Hugh O'Connell

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