Sunday, November 15, 2009


How Each Senator Voted on NAMA

NAMA took up most of the week in the Seanad. We discussed the Second Stage of the legislation on Monday, concluding just before midnight. We sat again on Tuesday morning from 10:30 right through until 2am Wednesday morning. On Wednesday Committee Stage continued for a few hours. We then went to Report and Final Stage. Our last vote was about a quarter to ten on Wednesday night. I got out of the House directly afterwards.

I was exhausted by the time I got home an hour later. I turned on the TV to unwind and woke up at quarter past three in my chair! I carted myself off to bed and slept like a log. Next day (Thursday) returned to normality and I was in for the Order of Business, when I brought up the subject of the need to grow our foreign exports.

The NAMA debate was fascinating. The Labour benches contain two of the finest legal minds in the country, Senator Alex White and Senator Ivana Bacik, and they were hugely impressive to watch up close. I was also impressed by other Senators from both sides of the House. I also have to say that whilst we don't agree with the fundamentals of the legislation, Minister Brian Lenihan gave a very accomplished performance.

Lenihan was clearly on top of the detail of the Bill and as a result he was able to robustly defend his position on amendments. During the three days of debate he was unable to be there for the entire time and on occasions a different Minister sat in for him. Some of these were also impressive, for instance, Minister Peter Power gave a good performance. Other stand-ins did not appear to have as complex an understanding of the legislation.

I was disappointed that one of my amendments on the need for NAMA to provide a social dividend was rejected. My amendment was to allow unused properties in town centres to be provided to community groups on short-term leases at minimal rent. This would help to address the shortage of facilities for youth and community groups across the commuter belt. I put the matter to a vote and unfortunately it was defeated.

On the subject of the voting, I thought it would be useful to do a quick summary of the voting record of each and every Senator. The issue of NAMA is hugely important and has led to many emails from interested citizens to politicians and I thought that people might like to see an analysis of the votes.

In total, there were 18 votes over the three days. These included votes on the Second Stage debate, Committee amendments and votes on the Report and Final stage of the Bill

As expected, all of the Fianna Fail members voted with their government on every vote. So to did the Green Party and Fiona O'Malley.

The 6 Labour Senators voted against the government 100% of the time. There was an abstention rate of just 3% (i.e. in the 18 votes, of the total 108 votes that could be cast by the 6 Labour members, they voted 105 times).

The 15 FG Senators voted against the government 100% of the time. There was an abstention rate of just 2% (i.e. in the 18 votes, of the total 270 votes that could be cast by the 15 FG members, they voted 265 times).

The voting patterns of the Independent Senators were varied and as a result I provide them by the individual Senator.

Shane Ross voted against the government 10 times, with the government once and abstained on the other 7 votes.

David Norris voted against the government 14 times, with the government 4 times and didn't miss a vote.

Ronan Mullen voted against the government 9 times, with the government 6 times and abstained on the other 3 votes.

Fergal Quinn voted with the government twice and didn't vote on the other 16 occasions. Fergal did not vote against the government on any vote.

Joe O'Toole voted with the government 11 times, and abstained on the other 7 votes. Joe did not vote against the government on any vote.

The government won every one of the 18 votes cast. However, some of the votes could have gone the other way had the six independent Senators voted against the government en masse.

Please note - feel free to use / repeat / circulate this voting record to whomever you like. But just be clear that on the matter of abstentions above, one cannot tell whether these were deliberate or unavoidable. For instance, one Senator was unable to attend last week due to personal reasons. The fact that a Senator missed 0, 1, 2 or 10 votes may be very justifiable, and should be checked directly with the Senator in question.

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