Statement: Senator Bacik welcomes proposal to include silent reflection alongside prayer in Seanad business

23 February 2012


Senator Ivana Bacik, Labour Senator for Dublin University,
Thursday 23rd February 2012

Speaking today in the Seanad, Senator Ivana Bacik will welcome the proposal from the Seanad Committee on Procedures and Privileges that a short period of silent reflection would take place at the commencement of sitting every day in the Seanad just before the prayer.

Senator Bacik will say:

“I strongly welcome the introduction of this small change to the proceedings at the commencement of the Order of Business in the Seanad. This change originated in a proposal to replace the prayer with a period of silence that I made to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges some months ago, but is based upon a compromise suggested by Senator Ronan Mullen. It was agreed unanimously by the Committee last week. I very much hope that the Seanad will adopt it unanimously today. The inclusion of a short period of silent reflection within the proceedings provides a way for us to acknowledge the presence in the chamber and outside of those who are not of the Christian faith, who are of minority religions or who do not profess to be members of any religion. It recognises that Ireland has become more pluralist, just as the inclusion of a Humanist ceremony within the Presidential Inauguration celebrations marked a similar recognition. I see this as an important step forward in creating a more tolerant and inclusive society.

Senator Bacik will also say:

"I would personally prefer to see the prayer replaced altogether and to see us start our proceedings every day with a period of silent reflection and no spoken prayer, as I believe this is the most inclusive approach and indeed is the approach adopted in many other bodies such as the Stormont Assembly and Dublin City Council. However changing the Seanad standing orders to include a period of silent reflection at least provides some recognition of the presence in Ireland of many communities from different religious and non-religious traditions, and provides a starting-point for greater inclusivity in our parliamentary procedures."