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Senators clash as water bill is passed


Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny

David Cullinane, Sinn Fein senator

David Cullinane, Sinn Fein senator


Enda Kenny

THE Seanad descended into chaos yesterday when a Sinn Fein senator accused his colleagues of being drunk during last week's late-night debate on water charges.

The accusation comes as new figures reveal spending in the Dail's two bars increased by 30pc on the day the Government debated legislation relating to next year's Budget.

More than €1,440 was spent in both the Dail members' bar and the visitors' bar during the debate on the Finance and Social Welfare Bill in November.


Yesterday, the Irish Water Services Bill was eventually passed through the Seanad after more than 25 hours of debate.

However, heated exchanges between senators marred the final day of debates and resulted in the Seanad being suspended on two occasions.

The chamber was suspended when Sinn Fein's David Cullinane claimed a number of government senators were drunk during last Friday's debate which finished at 3am.

Speaking after the sitting, Mr Callinane said: "It was very clear to me that a small number of senators were intoxicated when they came into the Seanad chambers in the early hours of Saturday morning."

Mr Cullinane said he made the comments after Labour Party Senator John Whelan made reference to the number of contributions Sinn Fein members made during the debate.

"Some members were inebriated by the exuberance of their own verbosity and self-importance," Mr Whelan said in the chamber.

Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke suspended the Seanad when Mr Cullinane refused to sit down after accusing senators of drinking at work.

Labour's chief whip in the Seanad, Aideen Hayden, said Mr Cullinane's comments took from the work all senators put into the debate.

"I just wish a bit more attention was given to the contents of the debate," Ms Hayden said.