• Legislation is being introduced to compensate landowners affected by broadband cables running through counties Mayo and Galway.

    The Galway Mayo Ducting and Cables Telecommunications Network was installed as part of the Corrib Gas pipeline project between 2006 and 2008.

    The ducting runs for 132km from the Gas terminal site in Bellanaboy to Ballymoneen in county Galway, and the facility was gifted by Shell to the state.

    Legislation covering affected landowners along the route was yesterday brought before the Seanad by Galway West Minister Sean Kyne.

    The Bill gives right of access to private lands through which the ducting and cables pass to allow the company manage, operate and maintain the network, while minimizing impacts to landowners along the route and to provide compensation and safeguards to the landowners

    Speaking in the Seanad, Minister Kyne said the legislation is key to providing ultra high speed broadband.

    The network is being used at present by a multinational company and brings vital data traffic from North America via transatlantic cables across the Galway Mayo Network on to Dublin.

  • A business woman in Castlebar has decided to seek a seat on the Seanad.

    Ann Barrett, nee Staunton, is to contest as an Independent candidate one of the three seats on the NUI panel for the upcoming election to the lower house of the Oireachtas.

    A mother and business person, Ann says she has recently decided to exercise her democratic right to be part of the Seanad.

    She is encouraging graduates of NUI colleges that have a Seanad vote to register for that vote by this evening, if they have not already done so.

    Ann has been telling Midwest News why she has decided to throw her hat in the ring for the first time

  • The Attorney General has been asked to look at ways to make sure, if abortion laws are ever re-visited in the future, they'd get more scrutiny than regular legislation.

    The move is being seen as a way to address concerns raised by Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

    Yesterday Simon Coveney went into cabinet asking that if any new abortion laws were to come in, they would require two thirds of the Oireachtas to vote in favour of changing them again.

    But he was quickly, and publicly, shot down by the Taoiseach.

    However, according to Minister Simon Harris , the Attorney General has been asked to see if there's a way of giving future abortion laws special status.

    The bill to allow a referendum on the Eighth Amendment passed the second stage in the Seanad last night, by 35 votes to 10.

    Debate on the remaining stages will resume later today.

    It is now likely the bill will pass all stages today.

  • Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has acknowledged there is an issue with one of his senators missing three-quarters of Seanad voting days.

    However, Keith Swanick, a GP who runs a practice in Belmullet, Co Mayo, has defended his record after an RTÉ investigation showed he did not vote on 84 of the 114 voting days he fobbed into Leinster House between June 2016 and July 2019.

    Mr Swanick received close to €73,000 in travel expenses up to the end of 2018.

    The Irish Independent reports that Mr Martin told a pre-Christmas briefing he accepted there is an issue with Senator Swanick’s voting record.

    Mr Swanick defended his record, insisting he has been "one of the most prolific senators with regards to policy development".

    He cited the taskforce on loneliness he established, several private members' bills, his campaigning for the cessation of government investment in tobacco companies and representations for colleagues.

    Mr Martin said there was no correlation between fobbing and political behaviour.

    The Fianna Fail leader added that a Senator’s representation role, campaigning role and legislative role is far more comprehensive than whether somebody fobs in or not.

  • Mayo Senator Lisa Chambers has today been appointed as Chair of the Seanad Brexit Committee by the members of Seanad Éireann. 

    The Fianna Fail Senator says she is delighted and honoured to be appointed Chairperson of the Seanad Brexit Committee.

    This is a cross Party committee that will work together on solutions to the many challenges and issues arising from Brexit.  

    Senator Chambers says the work of this committee starts now. It is essential to take every available opportunity to reinforce to stakeholders, particularly in the business community, the urgency of preparations for the end of the transition period.