Last night the Dáil sat until 5am and the break of dawn to debate the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill. The all-nighter was roundly condemned, of course, as being the Wrong Way to Do Things, and I’m not even going to get started with #lapgate. Before this, we stayed up all #PromNight back in February while our national parliament went over the IBRC promissory note legislation. After seeing two in one year, we might start to think of them as an exciting new piece of democratic stagecraft. There is, however, a bit of an all-nighter tradition in Leinster House, and 5am was nothing to them back then.

Fadó fadó i Dáil Éireann…

In July 1929, the Committee on Finance agreed to wrap up a debate “not later than 8 am tomorrow.” In the end it went right down to the wire, and the Dáil adjourned at ten past. It seems clear that talk of agricultural credit had given way to sleep deprived mumblings of insanity at this point.

“Are you aware, a Chinn Comhairle, that there is a difference between the two clocks in the Chamber? One registers five minutes to eight at the moment and the other ten to eight o’clock.”

An Ceann Comhairle: I am only cognisant of one clock.”

The motion was carried, whatever it was, and a bill was formed.

Dáilnighter ’74

The Finance Committee pulled another all-nighter in July 1974 (what is it with July?) for a spirited discussion of the finance bill,

“Mr. R. Ryan: All sections and all stages of the Finance Bill have been taken and it has been agreed that all stages of the Bill be taken not later than 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Acting Chairman: Is that agreed?

Mr. Blaney: Is this a motion that we sit all night?

Mr. Colley: If necessary.

Mr. Blaney: I certainly would not object to that in the slightest degree but I would submit to the Minister and to the front bench Fianna Fáil Party that I see nothing wrong with next week and the week after. I think the whole thing is daft, crazy and nuts, to put it in a nutshell.

Mr. Haughey: Nuts are always in a nutshell.”

They kept trucking until 8.15 am the next day. My favourite part is to be found in the Irish Times Dáil sketch, with Eileen O’Brien reporting that “a Fine Gael Deputy who had succumbed to human frailty emitted melodious snores.”

So I can’t exactly say they were made of harder stuff back then, can I?


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