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Dublin: 16 °C Thursday 30 October, 2014

As it happened: Vincent Browne’s Seanad debate

Miss the Vincent Browne Seanad debate? Read our blow-by-blow account here, there were four people…and Vin B, what more do you want?

Who's looking the most excited?
Who's looking the most excited?
Image: TV3

WE IRISH LOVE  a good replay, we’re greedy so-and-so’s like that.

And just like Croker we also have some a couple of match day line-up changes from last night’s action on Prime Time. For tonight’s Vincent Browne Seanad debate, Richard Bruton and Micheál Martin are back but we have two more players thrown into the mix to spice things up.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald TD has been added to the Yes side and former Tánaiste and Democracy Matters campaigner Michael McDowell is in for the No’s.

If you want to get involved leave a comment below about or tweet to us @the_journal or to myself @ronanduffy_ .

21.54 – Welcome to our live blog of tonight’s debate from TV3. It’s due to kick-off at 10.05 pm.

Most commentators agreed there were no knockout blows landed during last night’s debate on RTÉ, but if you missed it check out our as it happened report on how it went down.

21.58 – The debate is not going out live, it was pre-recorded a couple of hours ago. TV3 say it will be broadcast ‘as-live’ so hopefully that means we’ll get to see all the action.

Well we will if Mary Lou McDonald get’s her way anyway.

22.01 – The Government was defeated in a vote in the Seanad earlier this evening on a Private Member’s Bill on upward only rent reviews.

It’s unlikely to mean much though as it will probably be voted down at a later stage.

22.07 – TV3 go with some dramatic Dark Knight-esque music as a teaser. Vincent though is looking positively relaxed with his hands crossed on the desk.

We have to wait through another break first however.

22.10 – Vincent will of course be staying on air with his regular show right after the debate.

To debate the debate if you will.

We’re back.

22.11 – Nobody will try to shout anyone down says Vincent, we’ll see.

22.13 – Martin up first. Vincent quotes some old Fianna Fáil positions.

Martin say we haven’t had added enough strength to local Government for just one chamber, it was always a necessity for abolition he says.

Vincent and Martin already in fisticuffs.

22.14 – Other countries accompanied abolition with stronger local government and regional government says Martin.

22.16 – MacDonald is not opposed to second chambers as a rule she says.

‘Local Government are different issues’

Don’t leave it as a pre-condition for an elitist chamber she tells Martin.

22.17 – Martin focusing in on past words by Gerry Adams who called abolition a ‘coup d’etat’.

This time last year TheJournal.ie asked all the major parties where they stood on the issue of the Seanad. Here’s what they said.

22.19 – McDowell now going after Gerry Adams past words about Seanad. He says that Sinn Féin’s Ard Comhairle is a ‘shadowy group’.

MacDonald won’t let him ‘insult the elected representatives of her party’.

22.22 – Vincent Browne stepping in to try and take focus away from Gerry Adams.

McDowell gets in says this amendment removes seven parts of our constitution and changes 30 others.

He says one of the powers it removes it the right of President to refer laws to the Irish people.  Bruton yet to speak after 10 minutes.

22.25 – Bruton gets some screen time. He says he finds it hard to listen to the words of McDowell. Uses his old PD words against him saying you need to be ‘radical or redundant’

RB: ‘This is an institution that is not democratic in its operation.’

22.25 – Vincent Browne directs proceedings, he had been quiet.

22.28 – We have our first on one-on-one interaction. “You control the Dail” says Martin to Bruton. ‘No we don’t’ retorts Bruton.

MM: ‘Lucinda Creighton will tell you who controls the Dáil’. You’ve denied the people the choice of reform he adds.

22.31 – It’s all pretty civilised so far. But Vincent is questioning Bruton on the Government’s new reform plans. Bruton says that there will be detailed examination of budget procedures before they come into effect.

22.32 – Michael McDowell got a phonecall from former FG minister Nora Owen on the way to the debate apparently. She is voting ‘No’ he said.

22.34 – Apologies. I haven’t mention their ties yet. I’ll leave it to Colette Browne.

22.36 – They’ve been talking about the whip system for the past few minutes. McDonald isn’t happy, says its not the issue.

McDowell has now brought up for the second time the defeat by the Government in the Seanad earlier. We told you about that right?

22.37 – McDonald: ‘The same whip system that exist in the Dáil exists in the Seanad. The Government controls the Dáil’.

22.39 – We’ve been going for over 25 minutes now and nobody has mentioned cost yet. You would have got some nice odds on that.

22.41 – People do not agree on the the type reform of the Seanad says Bruton. It’s ‘obsolete’ and a ‘throwback to privilege’.

22.43 – Martin outlining the Seanad he wants to see. He wants it to scrutinise EU legislation and he wants a Northern element to promote a  North-South agenda.

22.44 – There’s been talk of the use of bronzer on twitter tonight. We’ve no idea why.

22.46 – The other parties except Sinn Féin are ‘slavishly for an EU agenda’ says McDonald.

22.49 – They’re talking Mary Robinson and contraception. McDonald says that using Mary Robinson as an example of a successful Senator is inaccurate. She was going after her goals ‘Seanad or no Seanad’.

McDowell says that Robinson has argued strongly for the Seanad, he quotes her as saying  ’It’s a safeguard to our civil rights’.

22.51 – We’ve gone to a break. After which Vincent wants to talk, ‘The role of Enda Kenny in this debate’. I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to that.

22.55 – Labour Senator Ivana Bacik thinks that Mary Robinson’s work in the Seanad is completely relevant.

We’re back.

22.59 – We’re talking Taoiseach. Vincent says that Enda Kenny has refused to take part in a debate that he initiated.

‘It’s not a personality contest’ says Bruton, ‘Taoisigh have not historically taken part in referendum debates’.

Touchy ground from Vincent, he asks Bruton if he was consulted on their policy to abolish the Seanad when he was Deputy leader of the party.

Suspicion Vincent says is that this was a gimmick by the Taoiseach as Bruton was planning to ‘stick a knife in his back’.

23.01 – Bruton is taking on Martin head on. He says that his position on the Seanad is more about rebuilding the reputation of himself and his party.

23.03 – MMD: ‘Enda Kenny has said that if people vote to retain the Seanad he will not reform it’. He describes thisas an arrogant attitude.

He puts the question to McDonald. She answers that if the people vote to keep the Seanad Sinn Féin will work to reform it.

23.05 – Michael McDowell has brought his copy of Bunreacht na hÉireann and he shows it to the cameras. No sign of any books from anybody else…even Vincent.

23.06 – McDonald is going all US sportscaster and talking straight down the camera.

23.08 – It wouldn’t be a debate without a word from Glenna Lynch.

23.12 – Martin is getting some time here. He’s looking straight at McDonald, challenging her by saying she is “advocating both an abolitionist position and a reformist position.’

McDonald says she is not prepared to recommend to people to ‘protect an anti-democratic chamber’.

23.13 – We’re on a break. The first ad we see is for the Referendum Commission. Really?

23.16 – We’re waiting for the third, um third? There goes my hurling comparison. What sports have three periods? Ah, ice hockey, knew I’d get one.

23.18 – Part III. The Dark Knight Rises.

23.19 – Vinnie wants to talk about the Dáil. Martin says that the Government have ‘abused their majority’ and ‘guillotined 52 bills.’

23.20 – The Seanad has always been a ‘more reflective chamber’ says Martin. McDowell ‘wants to agree with that’. He then does.

23.23 – They’re talking about parliamentary procedure, Martin says Government ‘rammed through’ the property tax and then had to change the bill later. A reformed Seanad could have delayed it for reflection he says.

23.26 – Martin still taking the Government’s record on guillotining bills. I’m entitled to answer say Bruton. ‘Go on’ says Vinnie.

RB: The truth is there is guillotining  in every parliament.

Don’t worry, he’s not speaking literally.

23.28 – What? It’s over.

Well that finished very suddenly. Luckily not in the method espoused by some.

23.30 – You can never have enough Vincent Browne. Don’t forget he’s up next to talk about the debate.

A fresh panel he says. He’s being coy again, just tell us Vinnie.

23.36 – So did we learn anything? Moratorium kicks in tomorrow afternoon so I hope so.

0.03 – Well there it was, the last debate of the Seanad referendum.

It was certainly a little more detailed than some of the talk in the run up to tonight. More talk about precisely what this referendum will do to our constitution and the state of our parliamentary system.

It’s up to the you decide now though, so if you’re still unsure look check out all our coverage on the Seanad Referendum.

Oh, and we’re deciding a Court of Appeal too, read about that here.

Oíche mhaith.

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