WATCH: Senator Mark Daly Seconds the Nomination of Senator Denis O’Donovan as Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann


As Deputy Leader of the Fianna Fáil Seanad group Senator Mark Daly has seconded Senator Denis O’ Donovan‘s nomination for Cathaoirleach yesterday.

In his speech Mark Daly praised Senator O’Donovan’s perseverance throughout his career. Denis ran for Dail Eireann on five different occasions before he got elected.

“John F. Kennedy said that everybody can make a difference, and everybody must try, and most certainly Denis has made a difference.”

Senator O’ Donovan was voted Cathaoirleach of the Seanad by 44 votes to six. He was supported by Fine Gael, number of Independents and Labour. Mr O’ Donovan received a standing ovation.


I congratulate Senator Norris on taking the Chair and refereeing this part of the occasion and on his re-election and his long service. He championed causes when they were not popular and he has seen them through.

It is a great honour for me to second the proposal of Senator Denis O’Donovan as Cathaoirleach of the Twenty-fifth Seanad. As a Kerry man, it is always an honour to support people from Cork, in everything except football. I hope he will earn the position today because of his tireless work for his community, his devotion to his constituency and his service to his country. He has earned it because of his great determination and relentless effort in public service. Denis was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth; he was born in the isolated Sheep’s Head Peninsula, one of 11, eight of whom emigrated to the United States. Given the fact many of his family are in the United States, I suggest that if he takes the Chair, he might invite the Vice President to address us in the House when he visits Ireland.

  At the age of 17, Denis emigrated to London where he worked on building sites to help pay his way through college. In 1976, tragedy struck the family when his father, Tommy, passed away. As well as using his earnings from the building sites in London to pay his way through college, he also used those earnings to support his mother, Mary. He qualified as a solicitor and set up a successful practice in Bantry with his business partner, Flor Murphy. At the age of 30, he was elected to Cork County Council and served in that august body on three occasions. Having first been elected to office half a lifetime ago, it has been a great journey for him to be here today for this occasion and to arrive at this moment.  <!–p>(Speaker Continuing)</p–><!–a href=""&gt;Information on Mark Daly</a–><!–a href="../zoomin?readform&chamber=seanad&memberid=2246&pid=MarkDaly&year=2016&month=06&day=08">Zoom on Mark Daly</a–>Half a lifetime ago, he was first elected to public office. It is a great journey for him to be here today for this occasion and to arrive at this moment.

It shows his determination and grit that he ran for Dáil Éireann on five occasions before being elected in 2002. That says much about his character and devotion and it says more than any words of mine could ever do. He has served in the Seanad on more than five occasions. As many of us know, this is one of the most difficult elections in any democracy in the world. In Leinster House, he has represented the farming community but especially the fishing community, due to his love of the sea and his having lived by it for so long. His great recreational pastime is mackerel fishing. If one cannot get Senator O’Donovan on the phone, it is probably because he has literally gone fishing.

One of Senator O’Donovan’s greatest achievements was his chairing of the committee on the Constitution in 2002. He identified the fact that the rights of the child were not adequately protected within our Constitution. That ultimately led to the 31st amendment of Bunreacht na hÉireann. John F. Kennedy said that everybody can make a difference and everyone must try. Most certainly, Senator O’Donovan has made that difference.

Politics and politicians have many critics. I am still waiting for those critics to come up with the alternatives. Public representatives, as we all know, have been targeted for criticism, often unfairly. We have often been on the receiving end of that criticism ourselves. As we start a new Seanad and elect a new Cathaoirleach, we might reflect on the words of another public representative, former US President Theodore Roosevelt, who had some words of wisdom on that particular topic. It is called “the man in the arena”:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Senator O’Donovan has shown great enthusiasm and given great devotion. If he has failed, it is only because he has failed while daring greatly. This day is rare in the life of a public representative. It is a day when one among us actually knows that feeling of the triumph of high achievement. The Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann is one of the few positions mentioned in our most important legal document, Bunreacht na hÉireann. The Cathaoirleach is one of the highest posts in this Republic, and in the one 100th anniversary of the proclamation of that Republic, it makes the position of Cathaoirleach all the more special.

This day is a great honour for Denis and also for his family. As we all know, families sacrifice so much because their loved ones have to give so much time in public service, leaving little time for family. It is a special day for the family, friends, relations and supporters. They have been with him in days when the failures came despite their best efforts, but they are here today on this day of high achievement.

Senator O’Donovan is perfectly suited to be the Cathaoirleach because he served as Leas-Chathaoirleach in the last Seanad. His door has always been open to everybody, regardless of their political persuasion, just as his door has always been open in his constituency in west Cork. Having been the man in the arena, he is well suited to be the person who will chair this arena. It is my distinct honour and privilege to second the proposal of Senator Denis O’Donovan as the Cathaoirleach of the Twenty-fifth Seanad.”

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