3 FF senators quit over bill

GROWING dissent in Fianna Fáil led to the resignation of three of the party’s senators for “conscientious” reasons ahead of today’s vote on the Civil Partnership Bill.

But heading into the summer break, Taoiseach Brian Cowen held onto his precarious majority in both the Dáil and Seanad and is expected to get over the final hurdle of passing contentious pieces of legislation on the last day of term.

Further damage to the slim three-seat Dáil majority is expected to be averted today when Fianna Fáil Cork TD, Christy O’Sullivan, agrees to vote with the coalition on the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill. Mr O’Sullivan had threatened to vote against the measures to regulate puppy farms. But following a meeting with Mr Cowen yesterday, it’s expected a watered down version of the proposed laws will be presented to the Dáil today and passed into law. The final bill is expected to exclude registration and inspection fees on hunting packs of dogs and those breeding puppies for hunting will not need a group dog licence.

The rural-rights campaign group, RISE, also called off a protest outside the Dáil today to coincide with the vote because it made “very significant progress” in talks with the Taoiseach on amendments to the legislation.

One Fianna Fáil senator, Denis O’Donovan has already lost the party whip over the contentious dog breeding laws. Yesterday three more senators, John Hanafin, Labhras O Murchú and Jim Walsh, gave up the party whip on another piece of legislation, the Civil Partnership Bill.

The laws which will allow same-sex couples to legally register their partnership and enjoy some other rights previously denied to them will “weaken the special status of the family and marriage” according to Mr Walsh.

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