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]

Europe Day Event – Bailieborough, Co. Cavan

Bailieborough
Image via Wikipedia

I received information today about a Europe Day event that will take place in Bailieborough, Co. Cavan. It is hosted by Cllr Seán McKiernan Jnr and Senator Joe O’Reilly.

Monday 10th May – A Celebration of Europe Day

John Bruton, our former Taoiseach and former EU Ambassador to the USA, will speak on his experiences in America and his reflections on the future of Ireland and Europe.

Monday, 10th May, 8.30pm sharp
Venue: The Bailie Hotel, Bailieborough

ALL ARE VERY WELCOME!

Know of any other Europe Day Events? Let me know! Stephen(AT)stephenspilland(DOT)com

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Tomorrow, Please Vote Fine Gael number 1.

The upcoming elections give the people of Ireland a chance to say enough is enough. Enough of this Government that wasted the boom, enough of Government that has not delivered, enough of a Government that is ensuring Ireland is one of the last European countries to recover from this Global Recession. As a young unemployed person, I want to see Fianna Fáil out as quickly as possible.

A vote for Fine Gael tomorrow, is only the only the start in getting Fianna Fáil out. To hit Fianna Fáil you need to hit them where it hurts, at the ballot box. That is where Fianna Fáil get there power, from control of local authorities and appointments made through them. June 5th is the starting place.

A vote for Fine Gael will help ensure that Fianna Fáil will not be in the next Government. Labour, if the maths are right, they will go into power with Fianna Fáil like they have done in the past.

Fine Gael is committed to improving Ireland. It is committed to getting people back to work. It is committed to getting rid of waste in the civil service and especially the health service, so that it is efficient and serves the people it is there for.

In the last 12 months the Governments have had two major opportunities to bring the public finances into order and on both occasions missed opportunities to bring about much needed change. But these elections will not change that straight away. We have to wait for a General Election for that.

A vote for Senator Paschal Donohoe in Dublin Central and George Lee in Dublin South will bring the possibility of a General Election closer then you think. Senator Donohoe has shown that is committed to Dublin Central though his work inside and outside the Oireachtas. He has worked hard and will continue to work hard in the Dáil for Dublin Central and Ireland. George Lee brings a wealth of economic experience to Fine Gael and to the Dáil if elected in Dublin South. George consistently warned about the way our economy was headed during the boom years by paying attention to what outside reports were saying, unlike the Government.

Fine Gael has represented Ireland well in the European Parliament. As the largest Irish Party, it has represented us in the European Peoples Party – European Democrats (EPP-ED) grouping in the Parliament. Fine Gael has used its position in the group to ensure Ireland’s position. The five Irish MEP’s are held in high regard both within the Grouping and across the Parliament. Gay Mitchell in Dublin, Mairead McGuinneas and John Paul Phelan in East, Jim Higgins and Joe O’Reilly in North-West and Colm Burke and Sean Kelly in South represent a mix of youth and experience from both within politics and in outside bodies. They are committed to representing us to ensure they get the best for Ireland.

The local elections see a large number of young candidates running for election. From Simon Harris in Greystones to Sinead Shepard in Cobh and many more across the country Fine Gael have encouraged young people to stand up and take part in their communities and play a positive role. This is an opportunity that should be open to all, but Fine Gael actually live up to rhetoric and actually support young people and helps them to make changes in their locality.

Fine Gael is committed to ensuring there is something to leave our younger generations. To encourage them to pick up the mantel, to help in getting Fianna Fáil out of power to ensure there is a bright future ahead.

Tomorrow you can help start that change! Vote Fine Gael

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Opinion Polls – 6 MEPs and 10% ahead for Fine Gael

Well Predict 09, the Burson – Marsteller study by Simon Hix (London School of Economics), Michael Marsh (Trinity College Dublin), and Nick Vivyan (London School of Economics), has updated its predictions. It is now predicting that the EPP will win 251 seats, up three from last prediction, the PES are predicted to win 211, up two from the previous predction.

They have also updated the country predictions. For Ireland they are forcasting the following.

  • Fine Gael 6 MEPs (31%) +1 (+3.2%)
  • Fianna Fail 4 MEPs (31%) -1 (+1.5%)
  • Labour 1 MEP (14%) nc (+3.4%)
  • Sinn Fein 0 MEPs (7.8%) -1 (-3.3%)
  • Green Party 0 MEPs (6.6%) nc (+2.3%)
  • Independents 1 MEP (9.2%) -1 (6.3%)

They predict that Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald will be the one to lose out in Dublin considering she holds Sinn Feins only European seat in the South. The independent they forcast losing the seat is the ALDE independent which is Marian Harkin in Ireland North-West. They are predicting that Sen Joe O’Reilly will take a second seat for Fine Gael in Ireland North-West. While this would be great, I don’t think it will be likely that Harkin will lose the seat. I think that Fianna Fail are in danger of loosing this seat since sitting MEP Seán Ó Neachtain will not be running. The current Fianna Fail candidate is Paschal Mooney a Leitrim Councillor but he would not be aswell known as many of the other candidates in the constituency. Last time out it took transfers from Dr. Jim McDaid TD to keep Fianna Fail in. I wonder will Fine Gael get the 6 seats?

The other poll is the Red C poll for the Sunday Business Post. The topline figures are as follows (from Irish Election):

  • Fine Gael 33% +2
  • Fianna Fail 23% -5
  • Labour 19% +2
  • Sinn Fein 8% +1
  • Greens 7% nc
  • Others/Independents 10%

This gives Fine Gael a full 10% lead over Fianna Fail. But should we be further ahead? When it came to the European and Local elections Fine Gael does lose out on votes to independents, but that is normal. Interestingly Libertas is only polling at 2%, so I doubt they will be gaining any seats in Ireland.

The poll was conducted earlier in the week before McGuiness’s outburst on the Late Late last night. I wonder will that effect how people perceive the Government?


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Predicting the European Election

I came across this site while checking out my new followers on twitter. The website is Predict 09.

Predict09.eu is a prediction of the outcome of the June 2009 European Parliament elections and the resulting make-up of the next European Parliament. The prediction is based on a statistical model of the performance of national parties in European Parliament elections, developed by three leading political scientists: Simon Hix (London School of Economics), Michael Marsh (Trinity College Dublin), and Nick Vivyan (London School of Economics).

The current prediction has the EPP staying the largest party with 248 seats and the Socialists the second largest on 209.

Despite the fact one of the researchers is from Ireland, Im not so sure about their predictions for Ireland. They ar epredicting Fine Gael five seats, Fianna Fail four seats, Labour one seat, Sinn Fein one seat and independents one seat, which would see Marian Harkin lose her seat as she is the ALDE independent. This cannot be right as Harkin is in North-West Constituency and the loss of a seat is going to be in the Dublin Constituency. The only way that this is possbile is which ever party loses a seat in Dublin, gains a seat in North-West. Will that happen?

Last time out Marian Harkin topped the poll on 15.82% of the vote followed by Pearse Dohery of Sinn Fein on 15.5% of the vote. Sinn Fein are within hope of a seat here but at the expense of Harkin? Im not so sure. If anything its the Fine Gael seat that is at stake as Jim Higgins came fourth on first preferences but got in mainly thanks to transfers from Madeline Taylor-Quinn. Will Jim Higgins and Senator Joe O’Reilly pull off the same feat?

UPDATE: This also posted on Thinkaboutit. Please read and rate!

Source: Elections Ireland – 2004 European Elections – Ireland North-West

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The party is over, now the work begins

So I am home from the Fine Gael Ard Fheis and what an Ard Fheis it was. Enda’s speech was as Yellow Roman Candles describes it “as good as it gets” for Enda, but it was the reaction to the speech which is what made it.

Mairead McGuiness MEP did a great job as compere of the evening and making sure that everything went in order and making sure that everyone was entertained. Micheal Ring TD did a fantastic job in getting us all going and got a standing ovation for his speech. But of course all the attention was on Enda’s speech.

When I read Enda’s speech before hand, I wasnt so sure of the ending (see here). The reaction in the hall was something else. On two occasions the hall went mental The first was the line “One of my first acts as Taoiseach”. That line had the hall on its feet! And Enda was not expecting that. I don’t think anyone expects a standing ovation in the middle of a speech. Enda soldiered on and the reaction got better and better and when it came to the “Yes we Will” line people were jumping out of their seats to shout it. Of all the (Young) Fine Gael Conferences and Ard Fheisenna I have attended, I have never seen such a reaction to a speech.

The time for speechs is over now. Now is the time for hard work, for knocking on doors, for asking for number ones. Now is the time for Fine Gael members, to get behind their candidates, new and old. And get out there and get them elected. Fine Gael have a hard task in trying to increase our number of MEP’s. Sen. JP Phelan in East, Sean Kelly in South and Sen Joe O’Reilly in North West, will all be a welcome additions to our current MEPs.

So can we do well? Yes We Will! IF we put our shoulders to the wheel and explain our points and get our message across, then we will do it!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]