European Elections 2014: Ireland South

European-Elections-2014I recently posted about those seeking election to Cork City Council, I am now turning to the European Elections and looking at who is running the European Elections. First up is Ireland South with its 4 seats. 15 candidates are standing and are canvassing across the counties of Carlow, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Kilkenny, Limerick, Tipperary, Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow for your vote over the last 9 days before the polls open on May 23rd.

The Candidates

Candidates listed by order of appearance on Ballot Paper with links to Social Media Profiles. * denotes current MEP

Richard Cahill, Non- Party

Richard is the only candidate from County Clare running in this election. He has decided not to have any posters. He is from Sixmilebridge and is a volunteer community worker. You can see his Youtube video here.

Deirdre Clune, Fine Gael

Deirdre is one of 3 Fine Gael candidates in Ireland South. She is from Cork and formerly represented Cork South Central in the Dáil. She is a former Lord Mayor of Cork and is currently a Senator where she is Spokesperson on Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation. She can be found on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook

Brian Crowley*, Fianna Fail

Brian Crowley is another Cork candidate hailing from Bandon. He has represented this are in the European Parliament since 1994 making him one of Ireland’s longest serving current MEP’s. He has topped the polls in the past and will more then likely do so again. He can be found on Facebook

Jillian Godsil, Non-Party

Jillian Godsil was in the papers long before she was a candidate. She forced the Government to change the law to allow bankrupts to run in the European Elections. She is a writer by profession and comes from Arklow in Co. Wicklow. Her tagline is “writing my way out of trouble”. She is also running for Wicklow County Council. She can be found on Twitter

Simon Harris, Fine Gael

Simon is currently the youngest TD in Dáil Eireann. He is from Greystones in County Wicklow. He is secretary of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party and a member of the Public Accounts Committee. He was previously a member of Wicklow County Council and Greystones Town Council. He can be found on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter

Kieran Hartley, Fianna Fail

Kieran Hartley is the second Fianna Fail Candidiate in Ireland South. Coming from Kilmacthomas in County Waterford. This is first time running for Elections and is self-employed. He can be found on Facebook.

Theresa Heaney, Catholic Democrats (The National Party)

Theresa Heaney is a Housewife from Timoleague County Cork. She has previously ran for the Dáil in Cork South West in 1997 for the National Party getting 5.12% of the vote and in 2002 as in independent polling 1.98%. She is the Chairman of the Mothers Alliance Ireland.

Sean Kelly*, Fine Gael

The 3rd Fine Gael candidate and current MEP. First elected to the European Parliament in 2009. A former GAA President from Killarney, County Kerry, he has been nominated and won MEP of the year from his peers in the European Parliament. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Fein

Liahh Ní Riada, daughter of the late Musician Sean Ó’Riada, hails from Baile Mhic Ire in County Cork. She is the Irish Language Officer of Sinn Fein. She previously worked with RTÉ and TG4 as a Director and Producer. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Diarmuid O’Flynn, Non-Party

Diarmuid O’Flynn is a sports journalist from Ballyhea in County Cork. He currently writes for the Irish Examiner. He is known for starting the “Ballyhea says no” protests. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Peter O’Loughlin, Non- Party

While Peter O’Loughlin is registered as Non-Party is the sole candidate of the National Independent Party who advocate Irish withdrawal from the European Union and were formed early in 2014.

Dónal Ó’Ríordáin, Fís Nua

Dónal Ó’Ríordáin is an engineer from Bandon and this is his first election. This is also Fís Nua’s first European elections. He can be found on Facebook.

Grace O’Sullivan, Green Party

Grace O’Sullivan is from Waterford and is an ecologist. She has been an activist for many years with Greenpeace. She is a former Irish Surf Champion. This is also her first time contesting an election. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Phil Prendergast*, Labour

Phil took over this seat following Alan Kelly’s election to Dáil Eireann. She comes from Clonmel in County Tipperary making her the only Tipperary candidate in this election. She is a midwife by training and previously served on Clonmel Borough Council and South Tipperary County Council as an independent. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Jan Van De Ven, Direct Democracy Ireland

Jan Van De Ven is an entrepreneur from Avoca County Wicklow. He is the Chairman and Leader of Direct Democracy Ireland. He plans to use eDemocracy to bring decision making back to the people. He can be found on Facebook and Twitter 

Prediction

FF’s Brian Crowley is sure to top the poll and will more the likely be elected on the first count. Fine Gael’s Sean Kelly and Sinn Fein’s will get the 2nd and 3rd seats not sure in what order. Leaving Labour’s Phil Prendergast and Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune the front runners for the last seat. If I were a betting man, I would but my money on Clune. I cannot see any of the independent or other party candidates getting anywhere close to quota.

The Replacements

As there are no Bye-Elections to the European Parliament following the resignation or death of an MEP there replacement is chosen from the list submitted by parties and candidates at the time of the election. Here are the replacement lists for Ireland South.

REPLACEMENT LIST R.C. (Presented by Richard Cahill)

  1. CAHILL, MARELEN, Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.G. (Presented by Fine Gael)

  1. KELLY, SEÁN, Gortroe, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
  2. CLUNE, DEIRDRE, 144, Blackrock Road, Cork.
  3. HARRIS, SIMON, 79, Redford Park, Greystones, Co. Wicklow.
  4. D’ARCY, MICHAEL, Annagh, Inch, Gorey, Co. Wexford.
  5. BURKE, COLM, 36, Farranlea Grove, Cork.
  6. O’HALLORAN, EMMET, 42 Mercier Park, Cork.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.F. (Presented by Fianna Fáil)

  1. CROWLEY, BRIAN, Maryborough Lodge, Douglas, Cork.
  2. HARTLEY, KIERAN, Ballyboy, Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford.
  3. O’HIGGINS, ADRIAN, Shellumsrath, Callan Road, Kilkenny.
  4. O’SULLIVAN, NED, Cahirdown, Listowel, Co. Kerry.
  5. DALY, MARK, 34, Henry Street, Kenmare, Co. Kerry.
  6. AMBROSE, SIOBHAN, Dún Mhuire, Melview, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.

REPLACEMENT LIST C.D. (Presented by Catholic Democrats(The National Party).

  1. BENNIS, NORA, 16, Revington Pk, Limerick.
  2. CAREY, MARGARET, Horse & Jockey, Thurles.
  3. MAHON, ELIZABETH, Rathmines, Dublin 6.

REPLACEMENT LIST S.F. (Presented by Sinn Féin)

  1. GOULD, THOMAS, 121, Cathedral Road, Cork.
  2. O’LEARY CHRIS, 17, Loughmahon Road, Mahon, Cork.
  3. FUNCHION, KATHLEEN , 28, Whites Castle, Knocktopher, Kilkenny.

REPLACEMENT LIST D.O.F. (Presented by Diarmuid Patrick O’Flynn)

  1. FITZPATRICK, FIONA, Pike Farm, Charleville.
  2. MOLONEY, PATRICK, Broghill, Charleville.
  3. RYAN, PHILLIP, Shinanagh, Ballyhea.

REPLACEMENT LIST F.N. (Presented by Fís Nua)

  1. NUTTY, BEN, 34, Sweetbriar Terrace, Lower Newtown, Waterford.

REPLACEMENT LIST G.P. (Presented by Green Party/ Comhaontas Glas)

  1. NOONAN, MALCOLM, 35, Fr. Murphy Square, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny.
  2. MANNING, CORMAC, 36, The Meadows, Classes Lake, Ballincollig, Co. Cork.
  3. RYDER, MARY, 17, O’Connell Avenue, Turners Cross, Cork.

REPLACEMENT LIST L.P. (Presented by The Labour Party)

  1. WALSH, DECLAN, Oldenburg, Lower Road, Cobh, Co. Cork.
  2. KANE, ADRIAN, 42 Idaville, Old Blackrock Road, Cork.
  3. SHORTT, CLLR. TOM, Walnut House, Browns Quay, Thomondgate, Limerick.
  4. Ó HÁRGAIN, CLLR. SEÁN, Sceilig, Green Hill, Kilkenny.

REPLACEMENT LIST D.D.I. (Presented by Direct Democracy Ireland).

  1. BURKE, LOUISE, Ballygahan Lower, Avoca, Co. Wicklow.
Enhanced by Zemanta

European Parliament Elections 2014 – Ireland

This year will see the 28 member states of the European Union going to the polls between the 22nd and the 25th of May to elect a new European Parliament. In Ireland this years elections will see a big change on the 2009 elections due to boundary changes and the change in the Political landscape since that election.

Constituency Changes

A number of changes to the European Parliament constituencies was needed following Ireland’s reduction of seats to 11 following the accession of Croatia last July. The Constituency of Ireland East was abolished. Dublin stayed a 3 seat constituency. Ireland South gained Clare from North-West and gained Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford and Wicklow from the abolished Ireland East and is also now a 4 seat constituency. A new 4 seat constituency of Ireland Midlands-North-West was created including all of Ireland-North West and the remaining counties from Ireland East namely Kildare, Louth, Meath and Offally.

Political Changes

With Fine Gael and Labour now in power it will be a different dynamic then the past elections during Fianna Fail led Governments. With Labour expecting to lose a number of seats in the Local elections, its two remaining MEP’s look vulnerable, as neither of them have been elected. Fine Gael would do well to hold their 4 seats, though they may have their eyes set an that extra seat in Ireland South.

Fianna Fail who claim to be resurgent will also hope to gain back a seat in Dublin but could face difficulty with Brian Crowley in Ireland South who has the worst attendance record among Irish MEP’s. But with the larger constituency they have a chance to bring in new blood and could score a surprise.

The Socialist Party will be hoping to hold on it’s seat in Dublin, but its bizarre use of Paul Murphy posters throughout the country during the Fiscal Treaty referendum rather then on focusing them on Dublin was a strange tactic. They will be lucky to hold this seat as both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail are likely to take the seat.

Sinn Fein who currently are unrepresented in the European Parliament will hope to change this following its performance in the last General Election. They must certainly have an eye on a seat in each of the constituencies but being realistic they should be happy with 2 (Dublin and South).

The Greens in this election will be fielding token candidates. I cannot see them getting elected anywhere. They may do well in there traditional areas (Dublin and Wicklow) but with both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein taking the Labour votes, I don’t see enough left over for the Greens.

Ireland currently has 2 independent MEP’s, Marian Harkin and Nessa Childers. Marian Harkin is a well respected MEP in Ireland and further afield and normally has a decent vote in North-West. The addition of the Eastern Counties could benefit her and certainly keep her in contention as the addition of an extra seat should also up her chances.

Nessa Childers is a different story. She was elected as a Labour MEP in Ireland East and has confirmed that she will not be running as an S&D candidate in Ireland South

While the expansion of the constituency and the extra seat may help, I dont see it having the same effect as with Marian Harkin.

I do intend to follow the elections here, especially the European elections. Expect more constituency level posts as the Parties confirm their candidates.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pollwatch: Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI 20th April

Green Party
Green Party (Photo credit: Neil Dorgan)

In continuation from the poll on the referendum in today’s Irish Times, tomorrows looks at party support. Polling was conducted on Monday and Tuesday by Ipsos MRBI. So this is post the major party conferences, Mahon and Household Charge.

The party support levels are:

  • Fine Gael, 33% (-3)
  • Labour, 13% (-6)
  • Fianna Fáil, 14% (-1)
  • Sinn Féin, 21% (+6)
  • Green Party, 2% (+1)
  • Independents/ Others, 17% (+3)

It is interesting to see the Green Party have their own line in a poll again but are still within the margin of error. Fine Gael are down for the first time in awhile but still have the largest support.

Labour continue to and seem to be loosing their support to Sinn Fein. There is no recovery either for Fianna Fail and they too slip, but are marginally ahead of Labour.

Sinn Fein are now solidified as the second most popular party, but if they cant get over there lack of attracting transfers it may still be hard for them to make large gains.

Independents again are a gainer but that can be hard to convert into seats as the vote is split among a wide range of groups.

The leader’s satisfaction’s are interesting in this poll they are:

  • Enda Kenny (FG): 42% (-10)
  • Eamon Gilmore (Lab): 41% (-14)
  • Gerry Adams (SF): 29% (-3)
  • Micheál Martin (FF): 24% (-5)

Overall Government satisfaction is at 23% which is down 14% since last October.

Irish Daily Star/OI Research Poll 17th February

Election Poster

There is a poll in todays Irish Daily Star (details from Journal.ie) by OI research. It is a telephone survey of a 1,000 voters on Sunday and Monday.

The topline figures are as follows:

  • Fine Gael 39
  • Labour 18
  • Fianna Fáil 17
  • Sinn Fein 10
  • Green Party 2
  • Independents/others 14

It is interesting to compare it to yesterdays poll in the independent which it dosent differ too differently from.

Seats would be along the lines of

  • Fianna Fail 31
  • Fine Gael 77
  • Labour 31
  • Sinn Fein 9
  • Others 18

Fine Gael seem to be inching towards the magic 83. Will they get there on polling day?

The change of polls stands as follows (really rough averages as decimals going crazy!)

  • Fianna Fail 16
  • Fine Gael 36
  • Labour 21
  • Green 2
  • Sinn Fein 11
  • Others 14

No poll seems to be an outlier, so its going to be interesting if the ballot boxes reflect the polling.

A Weekend is a long time in Politics

Department of the Taoiseach in Merrion Square,...
Image via Wikipedia

That was some weekend wasn’t it? I have never in my life experienced a weekend in which so much has happened politically. We entered the weekend with Brian Cowen as leader of Fianna Fáil and we finished it with him as a caretaker Taoiseach.

His resignation as leader of Fianna Fáil was not that surprising considering the amount or pressure on him from all parts of the Fianna Fáil part and the failure of stalwarts like Eamonn O’Cuiv to back him. He knew his time was up. He had to go, but hes staying as Taoiseach.

We now face the possibility this week that the leader of Fianna Fail might not be in Government going into the election. That is if Michéal Martin wins the vote on Wednesday, which he is expected to do. But I wouldn’t trust those Fianna Fáilers and the result could surprise us.

After all the drama on Saturday, the Greens went into crisis mode. They held a meeting on Sunday and at press conference yesterday, they announced they had “lost patience” with their Government partners and were pulling out of Government. This means we are left with 7 ministers. The minimum number allowed by the constitution.

The Cabinet now looks like this:

  • Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs: Brian Cowen
  • Finance: Brian Lenihan
  • Tánasite, Education, Skill, Health and Children: Mary Coughlan
  • Community, Equality,  Gaeltacht Affairs, Transport, Environment, Heritage and Local Government: Pat Carey
  • Agriculture, Fisheries, Food, Justice and Law Reform: Brendan Smith
  • Tourism, Culture, Sport, Enterprise, Trade and Innovation: Mary Hanafin
  • Social Protection, Defence, Communication and Natural Resources: Eamonn O’Cuiv

The election date is obviously going to change with this and a date that seems to be appearing is Friday 25th of February. That is of course if they can pass the Finance Bill and stave off the vote of confidence.

Tonight’s meeting on the Finance Bill between Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour and the Greens will be an interesting one. It will be the one that decides whether or not we will have a Finance Bill going into the election. Its going to be an interesting week.

Zombie Banks, Zombie Government, Zombie Taoiseach

Posters for the local elections and European P...
Image via Wikipedia

Its finally happened. The Green Party have called time on the Government, but won’t resign until after the Finance act has been passed. Jackie Healy-Rae also has announced he will not be supporting the Government. Cork North Central TD, Noel O’Flynn, is tonight meeting with supporters to decide his future.

This has been a long time coming and with the election due in January, expect canvassing to start in earnest in the next week or two. Also will Fianna Fail be fighting this General Election with a new leader?

With the By-Election on Thursday, it will be a hard task to get the budget passed. Especially by a Government with could either be described as a “lame duck” Government or a “zombie” Government.

What can we expect from this budget? Well according to the Cork Evening Echo we could have the following:

  • Social Welfare Payments (except Old Age Pension) down 5%
  • Minimum Wage down €1
  • All income to be taxed
  • A property tax

Will this be enough? Or will this bring us further down as if the low-paid are to be taxed, they wont have money to spend and therefore support the economy.

Is it worth Fianna Fail’s time to pass the budget? Is it worth Cowen’s time to stay on as Taoiseach to pass it or should he just hand over to his successor (Lenihan or Martin??). I’m sure who ever wins the general election will probably have a mini-budget in April-May. Should we hold off until then?

In the meantime its time to dust off the walking shoes and prepare for a long and cold campaign.

In the meantime prepare yourself for plenty of protests.

*Title taken from a tweet by Cllr John Buttimer

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pinning the Blame on the Bankers?

A new crime is set to be established in Ireland if the Oireachtas pass a bill that Senator and Chairman of the Green Party, Dan Boyle, is planning to introduce. This bill would establish the crime of “financial treason”.

He said in a press release (taken from Corkpolitics.ie)

“Among the many reasons why there has been no action taken against known individuals working in Irish financial institutions whose greed and recklessness have brought us to where we are is that properly defined legislation seems to be lacking in defining this kind of white collar crime and fraud.

“I believe that there should be an offence of financial treason, carrying a mandatory sentence and huge fines, that would be applicable to defined individuals working in financial institutions licensed by the Irish State.

“There would be convictions on foot of any decision made knowingly by such individuals that result in reputational damage for the country, an unacceptable economic cost, or a loss of economic sovereignty.

“While much public anger has a political focus, and much of this is justified, the inability to bring to justice those whose self-interest and greed so undermined our national wellbeing, is something that must end, and end soon,”

This is all well and good and of course is populism at the highest order. If this was to be implemented, it wouldn’t change anything. No trials would take place, no fines given and certainly no one jailed.

Why?

Because this law cannot be retrospective. You cannot be tried for something that was not a crime when you committed it. Any trial that did take place would fall, as the “mens rea”, or the criminal intent, would not exist.

Despite this, I do hope this bill passes as it will allow us to hold bankers and others responsible for their actions. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about the past, unless they have broken existing law.

Cork South Central

Cork South Central (Dáil Éireann constituency)
Image via Wikipedia
Over the years this blog has payed a great deal of attention to the constituency of Cork South Central. This mainly due to the fact that I am from that particular constituency and for most of my life, I have lived, studied and worked in the Constituency. The Evening Echo had an internal Fine Gael poll at the end of last week. The results made some interesting reading, the figures in brackets are the results from 2007.
Simon Coveney (FG) 15% (9.93%)
Ciaran Lynch (Lab) 14.5% (9.25%)
Micheal Martin (FF) 14% (19.01)
Deirdre Clune (FG) 12% (9.72%)
Paula Desmond (Lab) 11.5% (did not contest)
Jerry Buttimer (FG) 8% (8.77%)
Michael McGrath (FF) 8% (16.7%)
Des Cahill (FG) 4% (did not contest)
Green Party (Dan Boyle) 4% (8.37%)
Sinn Fein (Henry Cremin) 4% (5.11%)
The poll was taken before Cllr Laura McGonigle announced her candidacy.
While it is interesting to see Coveney topping the poll, it is not very surprising. After narrowly beating John Dennehy for the last seat in 2007, Simon has put in a lot of effort and it seems it has paid off. Clune to is polling well. Ciaran Lynch has proven himself an able performer and and will do well and may also get elected on the first count along with Simon Coveney. Paula Desmonds votes though are phenomenal. It will be interesting to see if she can carry it off. She will of course be helped over the line with transfers from Lynch and possible from Sinn Fein and Green transfers.
FF’s Micheal McGrath is in serious trouble under this poll as his vote is down nearly 50%. Martin will no longer have a huge number of transfers to bring a running mate over the line. Not that McGrath needed that in 2007. So he is in an uphill struggle.
The green party’s vote is also down by 50% so they have no hope of regaining the seat lost by Dan Boyle in 2007.
I do not understand why Des Chaill was included as he may have taken votes from Clune, Coveney and Buttimer in the poll. I wonder are FG looking at running four candidates. Personnally I hope not. As if Coveney gets in on the 1st count his transfers could bring Clune over the line (if she dosen’t manage it herself) and maybe put Buttimer in contention for the last seat with Desmond.
Fianna Fail have certainly lost a seat in Cork South Central. McGrath will put in a strong fight, but brand FF have suffered and it will be McGarth who will suffer the consequences in the election. Fine Gael will certainly win two seats with a possibility of a third fighting it out with Labour for that last seat.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Polls all over the Place?

Party representation in Dáil Éireann (Irish lo...
Image via Wikipedia

So tonight we get the third poll in a week! This one if from the Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI. The headline figures are as follows:

  • Fianna Fail: 24+3.
  • Fine Gael 24-3.
  • Labour 33.+4.
  • Green 2-2.
  • Sinn Fein 8-2.
  • Others 9 nc.

In terms of leaders its:

  • Cowen 19+1.
  • Kenny 25+1.
  • Gilmore 49 +3.

This is compared with last Sundays Sunday Business Post/Red C Poll:

  • Fine Gael 31 (-2)
  • Fianna Fail 24,(nc)
  • Labour 23 (-4)
  • SinnFein 10 (+2)
  • Green 3 (+1)
  • Others 9 (+3)

You then have to compare it also to last weeks TV3/Milward Brown poll which had these results:

  • Fianna Fail: 22
  • Fine Gael: 30
  • Labour: 35
  • Green: 2
  • Sinn Fein: 4
  • Others: 8

As you can see from the three polls, the only thing they agree on its Fianna Fail support in the 22-24% area. The Polls also agree on the level of support for the Green Party who seem to be stuck in the margin of error with support of around 2-3%.

Fine Gael vary from 24% in Ipsos MORI to 33% with Red C. Labour also vary from 23% in the Red C poll to 35% in the Milward Brown Poll. Sinn Fein’s support also varies but not as much. They are on 4% according to Milward Brown but on 10% according to Red C.

We can only assume that the actual figures are in between those results.

Red C is often seen by political activists (well the ones I have met) as being the one that is most accurate. Going by the results of the other two polls I am not sure if I go along with that theory.

To me all these polls show is that there is a lot of votes out there to be fought for. At the moment Labour are doing a better job of getting them, will that change as the Dáil session gets underway? The next set of polls should  let us know that.

Enhanced by Zemanta

FF Senators not happy with Civil Partnership Bill

There was some debate yesterday in the Seanad on the Civil Partnership Bill during the order of business. Fianna Fail Senators Labhrás Ó Murchú, Jim Walsh and John Gerard Hanafin raised objections to parts of the Bill and one called for a referendum. Also Fine Gael’s John Paul Phelan also spoke against part of the Bill.

Senator Ó Murchú claimed that the Civil Partnership Bill 2009 would breach some people’s human rights, he even compared it to the Penal laws! He said

I may have to speak in this House on behalf of Irish prisoners of conscience. The Civil Partnership Bill 2009 provides that a person can lose his or her job or be imprisoned, and that churches and other bodies can have their property commandeered. I do not think that is right in a country that has upheld traditional values down through the centuries, often in the face of oppression and misrepresentation. I do not think it is right that people who in good conscience believe they are upholding the same values should be subject to such a penal code. Many people in Ireland will see this as an echo of the dreaded penal laws. It cannot be correct.

Senator Walsh made a contribution making the case for a free vote, this was backed by Fine Gael’s Senator Joe O’Reilly. Senator Walsh said:

It is difficult, however, to ask any Member to abrogate his conscience with regard to matters which he – or she for that matter- feels are issues of conscience that are not for compromise in their view. Several issues will emerge, not just civil partnership but also embryonic stem cell research, pro-life and abortion issues. There is a ream of social issues which will have huge impact on the development of our society. We need to be careful. Those who have a view contrary to a liberal agenda being pushed by others have a right to a free vote on such issues as have people outside the right to exercise freedom of conscience.

Senator Hanafin called for a referendum and a free vote on the Civil Partnership Bill,

I call for a debate on the matter raised by Senators Ó Murchú and Walsh on the rights of people who will find themselves in extreme and difficult circumstances should the Civil Partnership Bill pass. The reality is there are people like myself who have difficulty with the Bill. As chairman of the Green Party and someone very much involved in the programme for Government, I ask the Deputy Leader again for a referendum such that the question can go to the people. Does the public seek a situation whereby a same-sex, sexual relationship has a higher standing in law than that of brothers, sisters, brothers and sisters or friends who live together in an ordinary way? Should such a relationship be put on a higher plain? I do not believe it should be nor do I believe that anyone who feels the same as I do should be discriminated against for that belief. With this in mind, I ask again for a referendum and, in particular, for a free vote when the situation comes to this House.

Senator Phelan also called for a free vote, not to criminalise registrars for non-performanace, and for brothers and sisters to be included

I have a reservation about the Civil Partnership Bill, which can impose a criminal sanction on a registrar who does not perform his or her role. I agreed with the decriminalisation of homosexuality ten or 20 years ago. Criminalising registrars for non-performance of their function is not a correct step in any legislation. I often disagree with Senator Hanafin but I strongly agree with him on this matter. I know so many brothers and sisters in my area who live together and never married. I am sure you also know of such people, a Chathaoirligh. I do not object to granting rights to couples, whether of the same or the opposite sex. However, people who are living together in a loving but non-sexual relationship, perhaps brothers or sisters, should not be discriminated against.

Also in the debate some interesting remarks were made by Senators Liam Twomey and Paul Bradford of Fine Gael.

Senator Twomey made this contribution,

With regard to the Civil Partnership Bill, how would people feel if members of my profession or the nursing profession decided not to treat patients on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation or religious persuasion? It would be completely unworkable. Members who are making speeches in this House must be a little more practical in their comments. Not agreeing with carrying out abortions or conducting embryonic stem cell research should not be put in the same category as treating patients who have a different religious persuasion, sexual orientation or gender. The same applies to nurses. We must clearly separate these issues and not muddy the waters with such talk either inside or outside the House.

Senator Bradford commented on the reaction to some statements and called for a fair and balanced debate,

I note the preamble on the Order of Business to the debate on the Civil Partnership Bill and the level of discomfort caused by certain comments made by some of my colleagues. I am not so intellectually superior to state anybody’s comments were misguided or erroneous and I am disappointed Members’ views were described as such. I do not live on a plane of such moral or intellectual superiority that I would describe anybody’s views as misguided. I hope we will have a tolerant debate when the Bill is before the House. It will be an interesting test of the House, our agenda and society. We claim to live in a liberal republic, but I have never encountered people as illiberal as those who refuse to accept other persons’ points of view as being equally balanced and fair.

There was a presentation of views by Senators Walsh and Ó Murchú. Perhaps there were others but, unfortunately, I did not hear all the other Members’ contributions. I was interested in the level of discomfort they appeared to cause on all sides of the House. The forthcoming debate on the Civil Partnership Bill must be fair and balanced. People not only have a conscience but a right to their conscience and we must try to ensure the debate is calm and fair. I look forward to presenting my views and some proposals as to how we can accommodate people’s conscientious difficulties. I hope that when a Member stands to express a different point of view, it will not be in a land of mutter, tutter, Twitter and discomfort. Our so-called liberal republic should also be a tolerant republic in which people can express their views without being derided and accused of being misguided and erroneous.

Senator Jerry Buttimer (Fine Gael) asked when the Bill was going to make it to the Seanad. Also Senator David Norris (Independent) called on Senators Ó Murchú, Hanafin, Walsh and Mullen to vote against the Bill like he is doing, he on the issue of Children.

Senator Dan Boyle (Green Party) had this to say in his response to the debate

With regard to the pre-debate on the Civil Partnership Bill and the issues raised by Senators Ó Murchú, Walsh, Hanafin, O’Reilly and Phelan—–

…..

In that regard, I point Members to the comments of President John F. Kennedy on defined political practice. He distinguished between the holding of personal religious beliefs and issues of conscience and the responsibilities of a public representative of all the people. When we debate this Bill, those principles should help to inform it. There is already legislation with which many of us would have conscientious issues. As people who form the law and have a responsibility for law already enacted, we have a responsibility to act on that conscience in a legal and responsible way for all the citizens of the country. I look forward to that debate. It is a necessary debate and must happen. I will share my views with those who are expressing concern on conscientious grounds.

The Civil Partnership Bill could be in for a bumpy ride when it gets to the Seanad.

The full debate can be read on Kildare Street here and here

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]