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Ceann Comhairle must be fair and impartial - Ó Caoláin

10 March, 2016 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD


*Full speech below

Sinn Féin’s longest serving Teachta Dála, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, who was nominated by Sinn Féin for the position of Ceann Comhairle, has outlined his suitability for the role.

Speaking in the Dáil today, prior to the election of Ceann Comhairle, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“For the first time in our parliamentary democracy, we, the elected members of the Dáil, will decide who among our number will preside over the business of this House, who it is we will entrust to oversee the fair conduct of our deliberations and exchanges in this chamber.

“The position of Ceann Comhairle, and the allied roles of that office, requires experience of parliamentary procedures and a disposition that is respectful of all opinion and the right of all to have their views expressed and heard.

“The Ceann Comhairle must, of necessity, be independent of both Government and Opposition. It is my certain view that the Ceann Comhairle is duty bound to uphold the primacy of the individual parliamentarian over and above all considerations of party or groupings. He or she must conduct the business of this House in a fair and impartial manner and adhere to the highest standards of the office.

“I believe I have acquired over these past nineteen years the required experience and that I have demonstrated that I have the skills and the natural disposition to serve in this important role.”

Full speech for the position of Ceann Comhairle 

Ar dtús báire ba mhaith liom mo chomhghairdeas a ghabháil le gach uile duine atá tofa chun an dara Dáil is tríocha. Is mór an ónóir dúinn uilig ionadaíocht a dhéanamh ar son ár dtoghthóirí.

Mar is eol daoibh, táimse ag lorg bhur vótaí inniu do ról an Ceann Comhairle.

Iarraim oraibhse bhur muinín a chur ionam agus bhur dtacaíocht a thabhairt dom inniu.

Elected members of the 32nd Dáil. I first of all extend my personal congratulations to you, to all of you, on your election in the recent General Election contest. We have, each of us, come through a tightly fought contest and most of us will have memories of challenging and perhaps even blistering moments.

The election is now behind us. On 26th February the people spoke. They have given us an honoured mandate and one, no-doubt, we will all strive to respect and to fulfil. And so it is that we meet here today to take the first steps in the outworking of the people’s decision.

For the first time in our parliamentary democracy, we, the elected members of the Dáil, will decide who among our number will preside over the business of this House, who it is we will entrust to oversee the fair conduct of our deliberations and exchanges in this chamber.

The position of Ceann Comhairle, and the allied roles of that office, requires experience of parliamentary procedures and a disposition that is respectful of all opinion and the right of all to have their views expressed and heard.

I believe I have acquired over these past nineteen years the required experience and that I have demonstrated that I have the skills and the natural disposition to serve in this important role.

I have over these past four Dáil terms worked closely with colleagues of all political opinion, party members and independent Deputies alike.

I have been an active and frontline spokesperson in Technical Groups in two Dáil terms.

I have been Convenor of Cross-Party and Independent members in two major health related campaigns – justice for the victims of Michael Neary and justice for the Survivors of Symphysiotomy.

I am an active member of the Oireachtas Group on Mental Health and I am a founding and Executive member of the North South Inter-Parliamentary Association.

I have considerable experience of working in Oireachtas Committees including the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. I believe again, while I was a passionate and committed advocate of my and my party’s policy positions and outlook in these fora, that I at all times was an interested and listening member to all contributions and was jointly involved with colleagues from both Government and Opposition in producing a considerable body of work, reports and recommendations.

I have openly campaigned with outgoing Government Ministers and Deputies in the Children’s Rights Referendum and in the referendum on Marriage Equality.

I have at all times demonstrated my willingness to work with colleagues of all parties and none in the interest of the common good and of outcomes of importance to Irish society.

The Ceann Comhairle must, of necessity, be independent of both Government and Opposition. It is my certain view that the Ceann Comhairle is duty bound to uphold the primacy of the individual parliamentarian over and above all considerations of party or groupings. He or she must conduct the business of this House in a fair and impartial manner and adhere to the highest standards of the office.

Dáil reform has been much commented on of late. It is not within the gift of a Ceann Comhairle to make changes to the conduct of business, already governed by Dáil Standing Orders. However, in his or her capacity as Chair of the Committee on Procedures and Privileges, the Ceann Comhairle can facilitate and encourage real and substantial change.

As Chair of the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission the Ceann Comhairle can again lead effective change in members’ interests.

As a member of the Presidential Commission and of Comhairle na Mire Gaile, among other roles, there is a lot to the position that members in the chamber and the wider public do not see.

I am greatly interested in taking on this honoured responsibility. I am humbled by the support of colleagues who have nominated me and I thank them for their encouragement.

I ask you, each of you, to consider me for your support here this morning. I respectfully request your Number 1 support and if that is not possible then your Number 2 would be greatly appreciated.

If called upon on the conclusion of today’s ballot I will proudly and solemnly declare that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my knowledge and ability, execute the office of Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann without fear or favour.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

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