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Dublin: 10°C Tuesday 30 November 2021

VIDEO: Confusion reigns as senators vote on bill to abolish Seanad

The senators voted 29 – 22 in favour of an amendment – but they weren’t very clear on what they were voting on.

SENATORS WERE VOTING today on amendments to the Constitution that would abolish the Seanad – but confusion reigned leading up to the vote.

In a vote this afternoon, Senators voted on a second stage amendment from Senator Fergal Quinn. The vote came after impassioned speeches from the members about their thoughts on the abolishing of the Seanad.

However, confusion reigned over what the senators were voting for. Senator Prof John Crown told his colleagues: “I’m sorry – purely on a point of information, I’m totally confused”.


They were asked to vote on Senator Fergal Quinn’s amendment, which was that the words “proposed to be deleted” in the bill stand part of the bill.

If the question was carried, standing order 119 also provided that the bill would forthwith be declared to be read a second time, meaning there would be only one vote, not a second vote.


However, this caused some confusion among those present, with Senators Crown, David Norris and Ivana Bacik all trying to enter the debate.

Senator Bacik said that the amendment sought to delay the reading of the bill.

Even Senator Quinn seemed confused about his own amendment, asking: “Do I vote yes or no?”

Senator Norris, meanwhile, said that the amendment is very clear, “it is not just deleting it’s actually deleting and substituting – why we can’t have this amendment?” He alleged a substantial portion had been left out of the amendment.

He was told that they were having the amendment.

“No, no, no, no, no, I demand a proper explanation,” said Norris.

The senators had to vote twice on the issue, as initially the electronic voting system failed.

The Senators voted 29 for and 22 against the amendment. Their vote could pave the way for a referendum to be held on the abolition of the Seanad.

The bill will be discussed at committee stage next Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, there were strong words from Senator Norris towards Minister Brian Hayes. When the latter said that the suggestion to abolish the Seanad was in no way a diminution of its members, Norris shot back: “Of course it is!”

Read: The Dáil and Seanad sat for 1,699 hours and cost €105.5 million last year>

Read: Enda Kenny: ‘Genuine Seanad reform would be almost impossible to achieve’>

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