Having been passed by the Dáil (lower house of parliament) earlier this week, today’s papers are full of the news that the Defamation Bill, 2006 was passed yesterday by the Seanad (upper house of parliament) (the full debate is here); all that is now required for it to become law is the signature of the President.
However, even at this late stage, there was still time for another twist on the Bill’s sinuous route into law. From the front page of this morning’s Irish Times:
The Government lost a vote in the Seanad yesterday on the Defamation Bill but managed to salvage the legislation by calling for a walk-through vote which gave enough time for two missing Senators to be found.
The Government defeat came on an amendment to the Bill proposed by Senator Eugene Regan of Fine Gael proposing to delete the provision in the legislation making blasphemy a crime.
In an electronic vote whereby Senators press a button, the Government was defeated by 22 votes to 21 in the 60-member upper house.
However, Fianna Fáil whip Diarmuid Wilson immediately requested a walk-through vote which takes about 10 minutes to complete.