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Doherty seeks longer Seanad hours

31 January, 2008 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said he is furious at the closure of the Seanad at 1:30pm today. The Donegal Senator said the progress of work in the Seanad is desperately slow and despite regular demands from Senators for it to sit longer it finished at half one today and will not sit again until next Wednesday. This is also despite the fact that the Seanad only returned yesterday after a six week break.

Senator Doherty said today, "Despite Senators travelling huge distances to speak on important issues and legislation in the Seanad many of us are continually frustrated at not being able to secure time to speak. I was waiting to speak today on the important issue of climate change and I was furious when the Seanad closed before I could get a chance to speak.

"The Seanad only returned from a six week break yesterday and sat only until half one today. There is no planned sitting for Tuesday.

"The progression of work in the Seanad is desperately and frustratingly slow. This week Senators debated a motion on drug abuse that has been on the agenda since before the Christmas break up. We also debated the 70th anniversary of the constitution which is also due to continue next week. While these are important issues this is an unacceptable amount of time to be debating them. There are a lot more issues that we could be dealing with if the Seanad sat for more days and longer hours. Senators are continually calling for debates on important issues affecting their constituencies and the State yet there is never enough time to debate them.

"While Sinn Féin supports more sitting days in both the Dáil and the Seanad we feel the hours should be family friendly. Early morning starts with early evening - late afternoon would be more suitable to the current routine.

"I will be writing to the leader of the Seanad Donnie Cassidy to express my frustrations and hope to see in the near future a more productive operation of the Seanad." ENDS

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