It would appear that all is not well with the Independent grouping in the Seanad. The fall out from Averil Power’s resignation from Fianna Fail has created a new problem. A press release issued by Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell in the last hour says that while the grouping accepted Senator Power they rejected his application with no discussion.
Senator Craughwell has applied to join the group on two separate occasions but was told that they do not wish to accept any new members. ‘This is a very disappointing situation and no explanation has been given to me apart from the fact that there was not unanimous acceptance of my application. I don’t understand why this is or why I am seen as somehow incompatible with the group. In almost every debate where members of the Independent group have participated I have almost always been ad idem with the grouping. When Senator Power joined the grouping with such ease I was encouraged that I too might reapply and be granted the same opportunity. However, it would appear that not all senators are equal’ said Senator Craughwell.
The independent grouping in the Seanad is made up mostly from the nominees of An Taoiseach but it would appear that they are now adhering to some sort of group political ideology that is accepting of some senators but ostracises others. This runs counter to the very idea of being an independent.
Craughwell said ‘Since being elected Senator I have endeavoured to work across parties and groups in a spirit of trust, co-operation and fairness. I have supported Government bills where I felt it was right to do so. I have supported a number of Private Members motions and I’ve shared time with Sinn Fein to highlight issues with respect to the development of a technological university for the south east.
I have supported a number of Bills based on equality including the Gender Recognition, Marriage Equality and Adoption. I have worked with fellow independent senators on a number of issues for example, David Norris on the Workplace Relations Bill, Fergal Quinn’s supporting his Central Bank (Emergency Powers) (Variable Interest Rates) Bill 2015 and with political parties on the Water Services Bill. As a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education & Social Protection I have worked with Seantors and T.D’s. from all parties and none.
Craughwell said ‘I believe I have shown a capacity for hard work and fair thought and it is demeaning that I should be rejected from a grouping without even the courtesy of a fair explanation.’
Senator Craughwell said that he is angry about his exclusion and pointed to the technical group in the Dail were independents of various backgrounds were able to work together. ‘My speaking time is restricted and there is no reason for it except to keep the club for certain insiders, if you are not one of those or don’t play the system there is an effort to keep you out. That’s the only way this can be interpreted.’