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'A right pain in the bum': Most senators are coming back tomorrow... but some are on holidays

We contacted all members of the Seanad to find out if they’ll be coming back for debates on Gaza and Ukraine tomorrow.

Members of the 24th Seanad
Members of the 24th Seanad
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated 12.35pm 

THE MAJORITY OF senators will be back for tomorrow’s special sitting of the Seanad to debates the crises in Gaza and Ukraine though some are away on holidays.

The upper house is being recalled from its summer break to debate the situations in the Middle East and Ukraine after senators on both the government and opposition side pushed for a debate.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan is expected to address the chamber with the debate due to get under way from 2pm tomorrow afternoon.

This week TheJournal.ie has contacted all senators in an effort to determine who will make it back given the difficulties that a special, short-notice sitting might create for some parliamentarians.

A total of 39 senators out of the 58 senators we enquired about have confirmed their attendance. Eight have confirmed they will be unable to attend. Two have said they are unsure at present. Nine have not responded to messages at the time of publication.

Those who can’t attend include Sinn Féin’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Fine Gael’s Tony Mulcahy who said they are on holidays. Others who confirmed they are “away” include independent senator Rónán Mullen and Labour’s Lorraine Higgins.

Independent senator Mary Ann O’Brien says she is involved with the European Equestrian Championships in Millstreet and will be unable to attend. Labour’s Denis Landy said that he has family commitments.

Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry is unable to attend but said he is paired with the Labour senator Jimmy Harte who is still recovering from a serious accident last year.

MacSharry was criticised for signing a motion to recall the house to debate organ donations last year but then not attending as he was on holiday. He confirmed he did not sign the motion to recall senators this year.

Others are finding it difficult to rearrange their plans. Senator and doctor John Crown is unsure if he’ll make it with his spokesperson saying he’s currently covering for two other doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital.

One senator, who declined to be named, said he would attend but was annoyed at the chamber being recalled.

“I hate missing these things, but it’s a right pain in the bum, and it’s an awful day for it. I don’t want to be driving back home on the Friday of a bank holiday,” he said.

Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who is part of the Reform Alliance, said she’d be there “even though its Ladies Day at the Galway Races”.

Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly said in addition to the Seanad being recalled, he wants to bring the ambassadors from Palestine and Israel before the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee.

Fine Gael senator Colm Burke said he was in Gaza in 2009 and said it was “the same situation now as it was then”.

- with reporting from Daragh Brophy, Nicky Ryan and Sinead O’Carroll. 

First published 11.11am on 29 July 2014

Note: When this story was originally published on Tuesday it stated that the sitting was being held tomorrow when in fact it is being held on Thursday. 

Read: The Seanad is coming back on Thursday to discuss Gaza and Ukraine

Explainer: What is happening in Gaza?

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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